Students spend spring break serving community
University of Louisville freshman Ethan Bennett picked up a shopping bag full of sweet potatoes and placed it in a cardboard box for one of the 300 or so people who picked up food from the Dare to Care Mobile Food Bank at Catholic Charities on March 16.
Bennett, a bioengineering major from Fancy Farm, Ky., was one of about 25 students from UofL and Morehead State University who opted to pass on a traditional spring break to participate in the Alternative Spring Break program instead.
Bundled in hoodies and jackets, the students separated apples and sweet potatoes from boxes and placed them into containers to give to the people waiting in line to receive fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and bread. Some students helped elderly recipients carry boxes of food back to their cars.
Among the recipients were refugees, immigrants and others who simply needed an extra hand.
"When we're on campus, we don't see this," Bennett said as he watched person after fill a box with food. "It's nice to be able to come out and help and show people that we do care."
This years' Alternative Spring Break program was billed as an urban immersion experience in which participants would learn about local poverty issues with a focus on refugees and immigrants in the community.
The students worked with Catholic Charities and Americana Community Center helping with such things as teaching English as a Second Language courses to children and adults, readying apartments for new refugees and prepping a community garden for spring planting.
Natasha Ramsey, a graduate student working in UofL's Office of Civic Engagement, Leadership and Service, organized this year's Alternative Spring Break project.
"This is a great opportunity for our students to serve others who need our help due to unfortunate events in their lives," Ramsey said, noting that she wants the students who participate to recognize the opportunities they have in their lives.
"We're very fortunate," she said.
In organizing the student work with his group, Chris Clements of Catholic Charities said he wanted to make sure students had the opportunity to work face-to-face and hand-in-hand with the refugee community.
"UofL is only three blocks away," he said of the food bank location on South Fourth Street. "This shows the faces of their neighbors. It's good to show them that."