Friendship with the poor: Alternative Spring Break

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Emma Downey, Contributing Writer

 

Over this past spring break, a group of University of Dallas students decided to selflessly dedicate their time to help society through Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

ASB has taken students to various places since the program began in 1994, and this year the locations were Kansas City, Kan., and Altamont, Tenn. The ASB group was able to work with the same organization in Kansas City as last year, which was the primary motivation to choose that location again. It was a long nine-hour drive in a 12-person van before the students finally arrived in Kansas City; for those who went to Altamont, it was a 12-hour drive.

For the students in Kansas, there was a great deal of one-on-one interaction with the inner-city poor. During the course of a day, they served breakfast at a soup kitchen and ate dinner with the homeless of the area. They also made big batches of pasta to take to single mothers and devoted a day to repairing the foundation of a family’s house.

Junior Lindsay McIntyre, who traveled to Kansas City, felt that the mission trip “really emphasized for us the need for friendship with the poor, instead of just material aid, which runs out. When it comes down to it, a lot of them also need support and encouragement to make a real change in their lives, so we were glad to spend a few days giving them that.”

Although the program is primarily intended to help others, there is also a strong focus on the individual students themselves. On a day-to-day basis, there were many activities designed to help the students’ spiritual life, such as daily prayer, reflection time and Mass. Before setting out on the trip, the team prepared by meeting biweekly during the fall and spring semesters.

In order to pay for the mission trip, ASB members helped with various fundraising activities, including the Poinsettia Sale, Advent Tree Sale and Valentine’s Day Sale. Other Generous donations also helped to make these trips a reality.

After the conclusion of the mission trips, many of the students felt that they had returned as different people. They spoke about the experience at Dinner and Discourse, an open forum event sponsored by campus ministry every Tuesday night. Past students have spoken about the intense self-satisfaction they gained and the close bonds they formed with other people on the trip.

“We had a good time serving other people and being with each other,” said freshman Zachary Foust.

 

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