Hillel students ditched their sandals for work boots this spring break to help communities in need. More than 30 campuses across the United States participated in Alternative Spring Breaks, volunteering in neighboring states and countries around the world.
Generous support from Hillel's partners, including Repair the World and Act Now Houston, made these weeklong service trips possible. Here are highlights from some of them:
Students from Michigan State University Hillel packed their suitcases and headed to the sandy beaches of Miami for a week of service with Repair the World. They tutored children at the Charles R. Drew K-8 Center and worked to bring fresh produce to underprivileged communities by building planter boxes and filling them with fresh soil before planting vegetables.
Alternative Spring Break participants from Eckerd College Hillel dove into spring break by volunteering in the sunny Florida Keys. They collected 1,956 pieces of trash, including 275 plastic bottle caps, 186 plastic bottles and 105 plastic bags.
Wearing gloves, students from Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach spent their vacation repairing the home of Sol and Kalli, who live in Puerto Rico. They dedicated most of their time to filling cracks in their roof and repairing their ceiling.
Jewish students from University of Vermont Hillel spent their spring break volunteering with Repair the World in Pittsburgh. They renovated a home for a single mom and her three children, planted flower and vegetable seedlings at Frick Greenhouse and volunteered with Project Prom, which helps girls from underprivileged families find a perfect, free dress for prom.
After more than 10 hours of travel, students from Columbia/ Barnard Hillel arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Participants met with Rep. Waldo Wolff of the Argentine Congress and visited the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aries to learn about the history of Jews in Argentina during and after World War II.
Students from Drexel University Hillel spent their spring break working with Act Now Houston to help Texans recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. They helped rebuild a home in northeast Houston by repairing its exterior trim as well as sanding its walls and ceilings.
Jewish and non-Jewish students traveled to Poland with Temple University Hillel. The 15 participants explored the atrocities of the Holocaust by visiting sites such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and the once vibrant Jewish village of Chmielnik. They also celebrated Jewish resilience, creating Purim masks with Hillel Warsaw students and spending time at the Jewish Community Center in Warsaw.
Minnesota University Hillel collaborated with the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and Partnership2Gether to bring student volunteers to Israel. They spent their first day in Rehovot, working with middle and high schoolers at an open-learning school that promotes independence in the classroom.
Alternative Spring Break participants from University of Florida Hillel spent their week of service in the Big Apple with Repair the World New York. Some of their projects included packing free, donated books to incarcerated people across the nation, stocking food in a local pantry to help families in need and visiting homeless women at a shelter in Brooklyn.