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University Relations

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Nov. 21, 2008
Contact: Ben Berninga, Alternative Breaks, (913) 484-7995.

63 KU students to volunteer Jan. 5-9 at seven Alternative Winter Breaks sites

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LAWRENCE — Sixty-three University of Kansas students will spend a week during winter break volunteering at sites across the United States.

Winter break at KU begins Dec. 22. The spring 2009 term begins Jan. 15.

KU’s student-run Alternative Breaks program centers on service-learning trips that provide opportunities to include volunteer efforts in a student’s educational experience. Following their selection for the program, students attend two-hour weekly class sessions to prepare for their trip. They may participate in weeklong winter or spring breaks or in shorter weekend breaks.

Students in Alternative Winter Breaks will work Jan. 5-9 with agencies in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Texas that focus on human rights, health care, environmental preservation and rehabilitation, education and help for people with disabilities. The program costs participants $275 ($235 for site leaders) and covers their transportation, housing and meals.

KU students have volunteered at six of the locations in previous years. A new destination this year will be the U.S.-Mexico border human rights organization No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes based in Tucson, Ariz., where 14 students plan to work.

Ben Berning, Shawnee senior, and Heidi Pierson, Clay Center senior, are Alternative Breaks co-directors. Meghan Connolly, Omaha, Neb., senior, is the winter breaks site coordinator. Administrative advisers are Linda Luckey, assistant to the vice provost for academic affairs, and Rueben Perez, director of the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.

The program was established at KU in 1995 with a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas. Since then it has expanded, with volunteer opportunities being added annually. Alternative Breaks works in partnership with KU’s Center for Community Outreach, a student-run and student-funded organization that runs 15 core volunteer programs plus additional local programs and serves as a coordinating group for KU students interested in volunteer projects.

KU participants in the Alternative Winter Breaks program are listed by hometown, major, level in school, destination and leadership role, parents’ names (when available) and high school

Alternative Winter Break sites:

AIDS Foundation Houston, Texas
This foundation collaborates with other organizations to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS and to support those living with HIV/AIDS.
Web site:

Give Kids the World, Kissimmee, Fla.
This nonprofit wish-granting resort facility near Orlando, Fla., creates memories for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Web site:

Misericordia/Heart of Mercy, Chicago, Ill.
Operated by the Sisters of Mercy, Misericordia is home to more than 550 individuals with developmental disabilities ranging in age from infants to adults offering individually designed programs to help them achieve and maintain the highest level of independence possible.
Web site:

Mountain Housing Opportunities, Asheville, N.C.
This North Carolina program provides safety-related repairs to homeowners of Asheville and Buncombe County, whose income meets or falls below the local median.
Web site:

No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes, Tucson, Ariz.
This organization’s mission is to work within legal protocols to end death and suffering on the U.S.-Mexico border through civil initiatives to uphold fundamental human rights.
Web site:

Teach for America, Chicago, Ill.
This national corps consists of college graduates from all academic majors who commit to teaching for two years in under-resourced schools in urban and rural areas.
Web site:

United Cerebral Palsy of Metropolitan Dallas, Texas
This program works with people of all ages and backgrounds to improve the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
Web site:

Other states/countries


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus. | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045