If hard work and dirty hands are your idea of a great time during spring break then Hillel is amply ready to provide.
Thanks to Hillel, more than 1,200 students will be engaging in social justice work, and Jewish learning, during their spring break in 2009. Projects include everything from working in homeless shelters, to rebuilding New Orleans, to rehabilitating wetlands. And here's one amazing statistic: With over 2,700 students in New Orleans over past four years, the city government estimates that Hillel has donated more than $1 million in volunteer labor.
Tufts freshman Alex Atlas is one of 70 students from the University of Kansas, University of Maryland and Tufts working in Tampa rebuilding homes and cleaning up the environment. "It was a personal achievement to be able to look out and see the 5,000 salt marsh plants we put in the ground with this small number of people. It was just amazing," he says.
Larissa Gibbs, a Tufts sophomore, adds, "It was fun working as a campus and as a community and we worked well together. It was nice to see the immediate effects of what we did."
Hillel's Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center is providing over 40 Alternative Break grants worth $170,000 to Hillels to support 564 students on Alternative Breaks in 2008-2009.
Alternative break trips organized by the Schusterman International Center include:
Pilot City Year/Hillel Alternative Break: 25 AEPi brothers will be doing service focused on poverty in Los Angeles;
Pilot CEI Alternative Break - Tampa Uncovered: 70 Kansas, University of Maryland and Tufts Hillels students will be rebuilding homes in West Tampa;
Pilot CEI Alternative Break - LA Uncovered: 13 University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California San Diego and Stanford students will be volunteering in a high school and homeless shelter in Los Angeles;
Student-Led Alternative Break: 46 New York University, University of California Santa Barbara, UCLA, University of Washington students will travel to various U.S. destinations to volunteer;
Hillel's Hurricane Katrina Alternative Break: 500 students from more than 40 Hillels will rebuild New Orleans (more than 2,700 students will have volunteered with Hillel over past four years); and,
Organic Farm Alternative Break: 55 students from multiple campuses will till the land, build fences, and learn about the environment and sustainability.
The Schusterman International Center trips were funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation "Serving to Make a Difference" initiative.
- 19 Hillels will travel to South America to participate in Alternative Breaks hosted by Hillels in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay;
- 19 Hillels are organizing their own Alternative Breaks to places such as Cuba, Guatemala and San Francisco; and,
- 52 Hillels are participating with American Jewish World Service, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, JNF and Jewish Funds for Justice on Alternative Breaks.