Howard students trade spring break for service

Participants of the Radiothon in WHUR’s building on Howard’s main campus on February 25th (Photo Courtesy of @HUASB on Instagram)

By Autumn Coleman

Howard University’s Office of the Dean of Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel organizes Alternative Spring Break (ASB), as an annual opportunity for students to use their spring break to give back to communities around the nation. 

Since 1994, Alternative Spring Break has provided students the free opportunity to complete community service projects in places such as Texas, Illinois, Puerto Rico and New York.

“I’m excited to serve in Baltimore this year,” Alexis Holly, a senior international studies major from Raleigh, North Carolina said. 

“Our initiative is youth empowerment and food instability, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people on the trip.”

The opportunity for students to participate in this tradition is funded through donations during the Helping Hands Radiothon hosted in collaboration with Howard University’s radio station WHUR 96.3 and the office of the Dean of the Chapel. 

On Feb. 25, students participating in ASB were required to donate a minimum of two hours to the Radiothon by standing on the streets of Georgia Avenue while asking for donations from passersby. This year, the Helping Hands Radiothon brought in more than $52,000 in donations, with 2,100 students filling out an application to participate in service for their spring break. 

“I decided to do ASB because I grew up doing service,” said Alena Britt, a junior strategic legal management major from New York. “Everyone who has done ASB has something to say and in some way, shape, or form they have done something positive for someone else.”

For many locations, participants complete a portion of their service in schools. 

“The reason I came up here is because we formed relationships with certain schools that we come through year after year,” said Deborah Boatwright, an advisor on the Chicago trip for the last 15 years.

Students who plan to participate in Alternative Spring Break departed for their sites on March 2 and returned to campus on March 9. 

“Alternative Spring Break came out of a need for service,” says the Rev. Dr. Bernard L. Richardson, Dean of the Chapel. “We are so blessed to have so many students who want to continue this legacy after 30 years.”