Auburn students choose trips requiring work gloves over flip-flops for spring break

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While many students around the nation use their spring break to relax or go have fun, a group at Auburn University involved in the service organization Alternative Student Breaks, or ASB, will spend their break making a difference in three southeastern communities.  

ASB is a student-led service organization on Auburn’s campus that seeks to promote active citizenship by fully engaging Auburn students in an affordable and educational service experience. ASB provides students with the opportunity to become involved in community-based service projects that allow them to help members of other communities.  

The 34 Auburn ASB members serving this spring break will spend March 6-11 split into three groups heading for three different places. One group will travel to Memphis, Tennessee, one to Port St. Joe, Florida, and the other to Greenville, South Carolina.  

“Participating in service opportunities like ASB teaches Auburn students the value of serving and selflessly loving others,” Caroline Condon, president of Auburn ASB, said. “It is important that our students learn this compassion within the Auburn community, but also any community they may be a part of. 

“Community is crucial to life, and it’s important that we recognize the power of the human touch as students, so that as we graduate, we continue to reach out to our communities when they are in need.” 

In Memphis, a group will work with Serve901 to partner with local organizations that will give them perspective into past and present topics facing Memphis. The group will assist the organizations that Serve901 partners with to address and help with issues prevalent throughout the Memphis community.  

The group traveling to Port St. Joe will serve at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve. They will assist in preserving areas of research that are critical to the preserve such as geology, fire history, botany and herpetology.  

The location of service for the group traveling to Greenville, South Caroline, is the Greenville Free Medical Clinic, a nonprofit organization that provides free medical care to eligible low-income and uninsured Greenville County residents. There, that group will help set up and confirm appointments for patients, create new patient medical records, organize existing records and provide other basic health care and administrative services. 

All of the locations for ASB’s trips are chosen by site leaders, who are assigned a topic such as health care, environmental advocacy or education reform. They then research and seek out locations where Auburn ASB could make an impact. Each trip ASB takes involves a team consisting of a site leader, trip advisor and Auburn students.  

ASB was one of the first organizations that ASB site leader Elise Fitzgerald joined on the Plains.  

“Any trip you go on will impact you for the better,” Fitzgerald said. “Not only did I find community with the people I volunteered with, but I came back to Auburn with a new perspective. I was more aware of social issues facing my own community and truly desired to be an active citizen. I can’t speak highly enough of ASB.” 

ASB spent the 2021 winter break serving at locations in North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana. Earlier in the spring semester, ASB and Auburn’s Black Student Union, or BSU, co-led the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The organizations traveled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Selma, Alabama, where they volunteered at several locations and served at the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation.  

“I recommend ASB to any Auburn student that has the desire to learn and be challenged,” Condon said. “ASB has changed the way that I pursue knowledge and prioritize service. I have learned sympathy, gained friendships and seen new places around the world [through ASB].”  

Students looking to volunteer with ASB can find more information about the organization 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.