Bucks Builds: Swapping “Spring Break” for Service


Nico Cisneros, Centurion Staff

There are certainly plenty of college students who spend the precious few days of spring break sunbathing on distant shores, catching up on Netflix, or earning some overtime at work. Yet there are a unique few who choose to not to spend their time, but give it: these are the students who go on “alternative spring break”. This spring break is spent using the week of freedom to volunteer for causes such as homelessness, hunger, and youth development throughout different parts of the country and the world.
In recent years, there has been a surge in popularity of alternative spring breaks. United Way has clocked in 150,000 spring break volunteer hours since 2006. According to the alternative spring break nonprofit Break Away, almost 20,000 students participated in such trips during the 2015-2016 school year. Yet this trend is nothing new for Bucks’ own Habitat for Humanity (HFH) club: this has been an annual tradition for them– and Spring Break 2017 was no exception.
Nine students, accompanied by a faculty advisor, headed down to Avery County, North Carolina on March 12 to work with the local Habitat for Humanity. They joined students from New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology to assist with a variety of projects. Together, they built walls for a planned home, completed bunk beds for a new room, and even finished a new addition for a community center.
Of course, these were not easy feats– especially since the club had to face down the last snowstorm of the season, Stella, on their second work day. “Some of the students spent the morning making walls to keep out the elements while they were working,” noted Bucks HFH President and sophomore Recreation Management major Amanda Hunsberger. Students also had to make due with crowded sleeping conditions, since the dormitory housing both schools was full.
Still, Bucks students managed to overcome these challenges to to both contribute to their hosting community and have a good time. Their host site manager, Bruce, kept things light during the work day with stories and funny anecdotes. Students from Stevens Institute worked together with Bucks students to make meals and organize game nights that featured UNO and the ever-elusive game, Secret Hitler.
Amanda noted that this combination of the “community feel” and the nature of the work is why she enjoys spending her spring break working with the HFH club. “My favorite part was getting to know the people I was working with and having the feeling of accomplishment when it was over,” she said. “Each time I volunteer with [H]abitat, I am able to make new friends and have great experiences.”
Luckily, those experiences are not limited to spring break, since the Bucks HFH is active year-round. Anyone interested in more information or joining should contact faculty advisor Dr. Rodney Altemose at [email protected] All club meetings are held at the Upper Bucks Campus. For more information on the local Habitat for Humanity chapter– such as how to get involved in other ways, how and what to donate, and how the organization serves the community– visit habitatbucks.org.