A group of 20 Black Hills State University students and staff members will embark on the experience of a lifetime this March as they travel to Louisiana to assist with hurricane relief efforts during spring break.

While some college students choose to soak up the Mexican sun or work to earn extra money, this group of dedicated individuals will volunteer their time gutting houses, removing mold, and working with displaced hurricane victims in New Orleans.

According to Janette Hettick, Americorp*VISTA volunteer at BHSU, this type of spring break is known as Alternative Spring Break, an educational phenomenon that is sweeping the nation’s colleges and universities.  This year’s trip, coordinated by the Black Hills State University C-U-R-E office, will be BHSU’s third Alternative Break. The activity is designed to educate students about social issues while encouraging future civic engagement among students.

The students will board a charter bus March 3. When they arrive in Louisiana, they will sleep in a makeshift bunkhouse in the fellowship hall of a church, and team members will set out Monday morning to volunteer at demolition or construction sites across the city.

The Alternative Spring Break team will be working with the New Orleans chapter of the non-profit organization “Hands On.”  In addition to assigning projects to the team, Hands On will provide weekly shelter, showers, and food for only $20 per volunteer while the team is on site. Hands On New Orleans houses up to 100 people at any given time; therefore, BHSU students will have the opportunity to work and live with a very diverse group of people. In addition to their daily work in the city, team members will be responsible for assisting with meal preparation and keeping their living quarters clean.

Fundraising efforts are now underway for the bus transportation, which presents a significant expense to the students. Students will pay for all expenses that are not otherwise funded. Donations for the BHSU Alternative Spring Break team, donations can be sent to Black Hills State University C-U-R-E, 1200 University Street Unit 9035, Spearfish, SD 57799.  All donations are tax deductible. Checks can be written to the BHSU Foundation. For more information about the trip contact Hettick at 642-6471.