Mary Unis ’14, Staff Writer
While most college kids around the country were binge drinking in the tropics during their spring break; a select number of Merrimack students were participating in Merrimack’s Alternative Spring Break service trips.
Merrimack’s Campus Ministry creates service opportunities for students to participate in during their weeklong spring break in March, each year. This year, selected participants where sent to different areas around the country to give back during their time off.
Each of the five locations had two student leaders that were responsible for coordinating schedules and plans on a daily basis throughout the trip. Merrimack students Millie Boye and Amanda Ryan served as leaders during their trip to the Bronx, where they performed homeless and interpersonal outreach. Erin Shellene and Madison Ward led their group to Camden, New Jersey to engage in social work to those in need while Mike McGee and Christine Neel traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for homeless outreach. Anthony Baccini and Alexis Johnston participated in Habitat for Humanity in Greenbriar County. Annie McDonnell and Theresa Walsh led the last group as they travelled to Vanceburg, Kentucky to work with Glenmary Farms: ministry of presence and physical service work.
It was at Glenmary Farms in Kentucky where Annie McDonnell was completely immersed in the culture of the local area. They took the term “simple living” quite literally when they were stripped of their mobile phones and sources of time so they would be completely dedicated to the trip. McDonnell and the rest of the Merrimack students enjoyed every second of their week away from their technology driven reality’s as they made sure to respect the resources that so many of us take for granted everyday. McDonnell explains, “We limited our showers to no more than twice during the week, we didn’t wear make-up, and we didn’t shave. We were very conscious of our portion-control throughout the week and during different meals; and in addition to the service we participated in throughout the week, we also had ‘farm duties’ to take care of on the farm.”
By day they volunteered in construction or served in local food pantries and by night they travelled to local hot spots such as “Thurman Brother’s” who served as a family-style band that played country/bluegrass music in their garage where they were able to dance and sing along. McDonnell’s experience was everything she could have hoped for in an Alternative Spring Break trip and more. If service interests you, please visit the Campus Ministry office located on the third floor of the Sakowich Center.