This year more than ever, I am finding that I’m surrounded by family and friends that take spring break very seriously. Their trips have been planned out for months, and the week-long search for the missing neck pillow (a necessity for any long flight!) is always intense. Everyone seems to be full of anticipation and they are continuously dropping hints by mentioning how warm the weather is at their destination. While my family and friends will be enjoying their tropical weather, they will also be helping to make the world a better place. This year, their trips include volunteering at a school for deaf children in Jamaica, working at an orphanage in Jamaica, and helping with home renovations in Destin, Florida.
As everyone is packing up for their trips, I am reminded of the service trip I took during one spring break in college, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Arrangements were made with Samaritan’s Purse and FEMA and off we went to Louisiana. Full vans of college students drove through the night until we reached our accommodations for the week - FEMA tents. Daily, we drove up to abandoned houses at the addresses we were assigned. Our job was to shovel all of the items in the house into wheelbarrows and take everything out to the large dumpsters outside. Nothing was salvageable.
From time to time we would talk with the owners of the home. They would tell us of wonderful memories they had in the now destroyed home, followed by the horror story of how their lives were forever changed when the levee broke. The people that escaped fled to friends or family in other cities. Many of the homeowners that we talked to had already started over in another place and didn’t plan on moving back. That spring break service trip had a lasting impact on me. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to help these families in what seemed like a very small way.
While the students will be gone from campus next week, there will still be people who need a helping hand. I’ve been motivated to find small ways to have my own week of service, such as taking dinner to a new mother who has her hands full. This spring break I encourage everyone to look for ways to help others. Whether it’s being kind to the person in line next to you at Disneyland or building a house for Habitat For Humanity, use your spring break to help create good!