Auburn students to spend winter break lending hand in volunteer work across Southeast

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Instead of spending the first week of winter break celebrating the end of finals, 34 Auburn University students will travel to three communities in the Southeast to lend a helping hand. 

The students are part of an organization called Alternative Student Breaks, or ASB—which seeks to fully engage Auburn students in an affordable and educational service experience, focusing on pressing social and environmental issues to promote active citizenship. This winter break, ASB student-volunteers will extend the Auburn Family’s helping hand into three states beyond Alabama.  

“During the holiday season, community needs become very concentrated,” said Caroline Condon, president of the Auburn chapter of ASB. “We are very excited about meeting those needs throughout the Southeast during the trips we have planned this winter break.” 

The student-volunteers will leave Auburn on Saturday, Dec. 11, and volunteer in three different communities from Monday-Thursday, Dec. 13-16, before returning to Auburn Friday, Dec. 17. The Auburn students will break into three groups: one heading to Charlotte, North Carolina, one to Nashville, Tennessee, and another to New Orleans, Louisiana.  

In Charlotte, the students will volunteer at Matthews Free Medical Clinic, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free, quality healthcare to low-income patients regardless of insurance status. They will assist the clinic through various tasks, such as organizing the pharmacy, making holiday packets for donors and making sure every patient is greeted with a smile upon entering.  

Those making the trip from Auburn to Nashville will volunteer at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, helping members with reading, art classes, gym activities and STEM projects, as well as providing administrative aid in the club support center and tending to the grounds.  

In New Orleans, Auburn volunteers will spend the week helping at Animal Rescue of New Orleans, a nonprofit, no-kill organization. The volunteers will walk dogs throughout the day, feed the animals, supervise “pup playtime” and cat socialization.  

ASB decides which service trips to take by encouraging site leaders to research trip topics and nonprofits for which they might like to volunteer.  

“We want the site leaders to feel passionately about the service they participate in, so that they can encourage their participants to be engaged in addressing social issues,” Condon said.  

Brooke Bayuga, a site leader and senior in nursing, said the weeklong service program, “allows students to witness how their work can impact a community, creating volunteers that not only give back but learn about the root causes that stem the need for their service.” 

ASB typically takes eight unique service trips throughout the year, including some international service trips. ASB members have previously volunteered at locations in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASB has recently been limited to domestic and local travel, and plans to complete six full-week trips, four weekend trips and one three-day trip this academic year. 

“Volunteering with ASB has changed the way that I view my role the community, and now I am constantly looking for ways that I can give back, but also for ways that I can learn from the people around me,” Condon said. “I recommend that every Auburn student get involved with Alternative Student Breaks to gain perspective, aid communities facing current social issues and to form relationships with other members of the Auburn Family.” 

To learn more about ASB at Auburn University or to volunteer, click here.  

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.