If you’re anything like me, you’ve been day-dreaming of chugging margaritas on the beach as your toes go numb on the long and snowy walk to class. Spring Break could not come soon enough and many a student has been counting down the days until they leave for those sandy beaches (I’m talking to you, girl who’s been updating her status every day since September).
But while many view the traditional MTV Spring Break as an essential, critical, and irreplaceable college experience, lately girls have been unpacking their bikinis and trading them in for work boots all in the name of Haiti.
I don’t have to remind anyone (I hope) of the disaster that struck there just a month ago. Officially considered the largest earthquake ever recorded, the death toll is estimated between 212-230,000 civilians. That’s equal to the deaths that resulted from the 2004 tsunami in southern Asia. That number is not only shocking on its own, but it makes it one of the two most horrific natural disasters to happen to North America in the last ten years (yes, Haiti is part of North America!), the other being Hurricane Katrina. And just as special Spring Break programs were created to allow high school and college students to travel to New Orleans and help with disaster relief, there are plenty of programs out there for Haiti.
Your individual universities might be hosting their own programs, but if you’re looking for a Spring Break that makes you feel good (and not hungover), here are a few organizations that are sponsoring volunteer trips:
Alternative Spring Break
Okay, so this website looks like I could have designed it myself (I still have trouble using MS Word), but it is full of amazing information about being involved. It includes a list of things that you and you’re group will be doing (teaching English? Awesome!) and how you can tailor your experience to be more specific to your major. And there are a variety of trips so you can chose the best one to correspond with your break.
mtvU Spring Break: Haiti Relief
Feel like sharing your good will (and close-ups on your sweaty face) with the world? mtvU is looking for college students that plan on using their break to help raise awareness for Haiti. You don’t have to actually volunteer in the country itself; any sort of fund-raising or clothes collection are wanted for their show.
This website is a giant directory for programs not only in Haiti, but around the entire world. And not just for Spring Break, either. Currently there are 15 programs but more are constantly cropping up; the variety of organizations should make it much easier to find the best one for you to give back.
Some of the websites I came across while looking for volunteer programs said that simply donating money, no matter the amount, would be just as helpful. I’d like to reiterate this, because even if you can only afford to part with $10, every cent DOES help. The disaster area is still being investigated so until an actual plan of action for recovery is underway, money may be the best way to help. For a list of organizations to which you can donate, click here.)