Alternative Break consists of acts of volunteerism

Katie Pulvermacher, News Editor

A group of nine UW Oshkosh students traveled to Memphis, Tennessee during spring break as part of a community service trip put on by Alternative Break.

“The trip went great,” Program Adviser of Campus & Civic Engagement Nicole BellCorelli said.
“Our group worked so well together and we were able to accomplish so much at the agencies that we worked with.”

Alternative Break was started in the mid 2000s by Reeve Union Student Involvement and Residence Life. The first trip was to Biloxi, Mississippi to help with hurricane damage relief.

Courtesy of Alternative Break blog

BellCorelli said Memphis was chosen as the location of this trip due to it being drivable from Oshkosh, but also far enough away to get students out of the area to participate in service.

The group helped with multiple agencies. On Monday, they helped at Capstone Education and Multinational. At Capstone Education, they filed paperwork, assembled supply kits for teachers for fall and reorganized a supply room.

According to Alternative Break’s blog, the work of the students helped save them a lot of extra time and they would have had to ask staff to volunteer to make it happen.

At Multinational, the group helped children in an after-school program with homework and played with them on the playground. They returned to Multinational Wednesday afternoon.

“Many in the group really enjoyed helping with the Multinational aftercare program,” BellCorelli said. “They assisted elementary school students with their homework, crafts and games. They connected well and quickly with the kids.”

On Tuesday, the group sorted and boxed food at the Mid-South Food Bank.

The first site on Wednesday was Fairley High School, where they spent two days volunteering.
“Our work at Fairley High School was also a highlight for many,” BellCorelli said. “We were there for two days, helping clean and organize classrooms.”
According to the blog, after continuous poor test scores, they switched from Shelby County Schools to the Green Dot charter school system. The school was filled with broken furniture, among other items that would need to be sorted through.

The first day, they cleared bookshelves in the library and cleaned out an old science classroom that had been filled with broken desks and other miscellaneous items. They sorted the broken from the usable.

On the second day, they cleaned a skills room that had not been used in three years. They organized and unboxed new kitchen items for classroom use in the next school year.

The trip also included a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum, meals out and lots of games.
Specific locations for upcoming Alternative Breaks are not released yet. Advertising for the spring 2023 trip will start in early October.

BellCorelli said students should apply if interested in escaping Wisconsin for a week.

“Alternative Break is an excellent opportunity for students to participate in service and reflection over the course of the week,” BellCorelli said. “We work together for a week, and the variety of service and the time together allow for deeper discussions on the service experience and social justice issues.”