The students are participating in Hamilton's Alternative Spring Break program (ASB), which is sponsored by the Hamilton Action Volunteer Outreach Coalition, a student-run organization that provides community service in Oneida County. The Alternative Spring Break program was started in 1993 when 20 students travelled to Miami to work on Hurricane Andrew relief with Habitat for Humanity. The following year the number of students doubled; each year since the number of participants has increased.
Alternative Spring Break is intended to increase students' awareness and concern of social issues while generating a life-long interest in community service.
This year Hamilton students are working with non-profit organizations in the following cities: United Methodist Relief Centers, Charleston, S.C. - Eleven students will work on rehabilitation and construction of homes for disadvantaged families.
YWCA, Jacksonville, Fla. - Eleven Hamilton students will tutor children, do general community service and clean-up.
The Pilgrimage, Washington, D.C. - Through The Pilgrimage, an educational and service learning center, students will work in soup kitchens for the homeless and with RPJ Housing, a project that performs renovations on low-income housing.
Habitat for Humanity, Birmingham, Alabama - Students will help build homes for low-income families. Blowing Rocks Nature Conservancy, Hobe Sound, Fla. - The students will be doing environmental clean up and building trails at Blowing Rocks.
The Girl's Home of Rock Hill, Rock Hill S.C. - The Girl's Home provides housing and schooling for troubled teen-age girls. The volunteers will do painting and maintenance work there.
Participants in the ASB trips hold a number of fundraisers throughout the academic year to earn money for their expenses, which include van rentals, accommodations, meals and in some cases, site fees. Joe Livingston, a sophomore from Ferndale, N.Y. and the group's treasurer, estimates that this year's six trips will cost over $20,000.
Hamilton College is a highly selective, residential college, offering a rigorous liberal arts curriculum. Students are challenged to think, write and speak critically, creatively and analytically so that upon graduation they may distinguish themselves in both their professions and their communities.