Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Feb. 28, 2013

Make a Difference with Your Spring Break

Project Administrator, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)

Tomorrow is the first day of March – a month marked by changing weather, blooming flowers, and of course, spring break! In coming weeks, students all over the country will take some much deserved time off, many to relax before end-of-the-year exams. Yet, some will be trading in their vacation time to participate in a small but growing trend known as “alternative spring break.” 

Alternative spring breaks are organized trips that allow students to roll up their sleeves and get involved. For one week, they immerse themselves in service projects with focuses ranging from poverty to environmental sustainability. In 2011 alone, nearly 500 students provided 13,500 hours of service in communities around the United States. 

This year, United Way and MTV are partnering together to send 50 students to rebuild areas of New York and New Jersey hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. They’re calling it “Spring Fix,” but there are programs across the country just like it, encouraging young people to get out there and do something. And, while it may be too late to participate in Spring Fix, there are still tons of ways to use your family’s spring break to give back! 

Plan your own alternative spring break 

Take one day of your vacation and dedicate it to volunteering. Not sure where to start? Here are some great websites for finding volunteer opportunities in your area: 

  • All for Good: a volunteer opportunity search engine powered by the largest database of volunteer opportunities on the Internet. You can search for events and activities by topic (both locally and nationally), find virtual volunteer opportunities, and find information about starting your own project. 
  • Idealist: a website that allows nonprofit organizations worldwide to post event information, volunteering opportunities, jobs, resources and services. It’s a great place to look if you’ve already got a cause you’re committed to or an organization you like. 

Maybe your vacation plans aren’t that flexible? You can still make a difference. There are websites out there that allow you to volunteer from your computer (we really like Sparked.com). There are even places to start an online petition for causes you care about (try Change.org). A simple post on social media or a text to a friend about an issue you’re passionate about can make a difference too. 

How you choose to get involved, that’s up to you. What matters is getting out there and taking action! Plus, you never know, it could open your eyes to a whole new world. 

My friend Melissa started going on alternative spring breaks in high school. So far, she has participated in seven of them! Because of her experiences she went on to become a Human Services Major at the George Washington University and now she’s in the Peace Corps. In fact, she’ll be shipping off to Guatemala in just a few months. 

I asked Melissa why she would recommend alternative spring breaks and volunteering and I’d like to leave you with her words: 

“Students who grow up learning about the importance of service in their communities realize the power they have to make a difference as an individual or as part of a small group.” 

Tell us in the comment section below how you plan to get involved this spring break and how you can be a source of good in your community. 

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.