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Instead of heading home or to a sunny locale, a group of Lycoming College students participated in “Alternative Spring Break,” a free program for students opting to dedicate their time to community service opportunities. Organized by Sophia Stabley, director of community service and involvement at Lycoming College, and Jae Ellison, director of outdoor leadership and education (OLE) at Lycoming, the group stayed on campus for the break and worked together on various community service and outdoor recreational activities.
“We wanted to make this experience about fostering community not only amongst peers but among the community that we have around us by exposing students to nonprofit organizations,” said Stabley.
With the pandemic derailing past alternative spring break opportunities, Stabley was excited to be able to organize this spring break alternative and welcome familiar and new faces. A group of 20 students, including members of OLE, joined activities every day.
In the past, students involved in the spring break alternative traveled to either Washington, D.C., or New York City to serve with the Youth Service Opportunities Project or in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge to assist building homes across the United States. However, with uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 cases, the group stayed on campus where Stabley and Ellison instead took students to local non-profit organizations. Students helped Camp Koala, a children’s grief camp, with demolition and landscaping in preparation for the opening of their new office building; as well as two animal shelters, Farm Animal Rescue and Ashburn’s Animals, to assist with day-to-day tasks and larger projects such as turning over winter bedding.
“It was fulfilling and restorative for my soul to serve alongside students as well as these organizations,” said Stabley. “We really wanted to harvest the feeling of family, and we would not have been able to do that without OLE, its staff, and the students who participated.”
As well as exposing students to service opportunities within the area, Stabley and Ellison incorporated fun activities, such as going to the Kaos Fun Zone, the movies, Trout Pond Rollerskating Rink, and touring Penn’s Cave.
Stabley looks forward to welcoming more students next academic year with its community service and outreach opportunities. To get involved with community service on campus, students can join a number of service organizations on campus, including Circle K International, Habitat for Humanity, Lycoming Change Agents, the Lycoming chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and the Lycoming UNICEF chapter. For more information, visit the Lycoming College Community Service page.