Students spend spring break serving the community
Penn Cru, Alternate Spring Break and the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship offered trips
March 17, 2013, 11:14 pm·
Instead of vacationing in Cancun or California over break, some groups of Penn students opted to help drug addicts on the street.
Despite the challenges of their work, the students enjoyed seeing the impact of their work and bonding with one another.
Members of Penn Cru — a Christian community at Penn — took part in eight days of service in Philadelphia. They partnered with Victory Outreach Church of Philadelphia and The Simple Way nonprofit organization to help the needy in poverty-stricken areas of the city.
Some students helped construct and repair homes for recovering addicts, prostitutes and drug dealers. They also approached addicts on the Philadelphia streets and offered help and prayed for them.
“[You] definitely just go to neighborhoods where you don’t go at home,” Cru City Director Andrew Young said. “Every three out of four houses are boarded up … they’re just crack houses.”
According to Young, the week was both challenging and impactful for students. He noted that March 8 was a particularly difficult night for some — when 40 to 50 people on the trip went to an open drug-dealing corner of the city and offered their help.
“For the many of us we’ve never seen the dark underbelly of that drug scene,” Young said.
Penn Alternate Spring Break also sponsored community service trips to West Virginia, North Carolina, New Orleans and Virginia.
In Almost Heaven, W. Va., 13 students spent four days building houses and bonding.
“The best part is that it’s 13 random people you wouldn’t normally meet at Penn,” site leader and College and Wharton junior Alec Barnes said.
By the end of the week, the group was really good friends with one another, Barnes added.
Penn’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship sponsored a March 2 day of service — entitled Jesus, Justice, Poverty — that occurred over break.
Each student participating in the event could choose to take part in one of three activities entitled learn, serve and experience.
Those in the “experience” activity approached the homeless on the Philadelphia streets and listened to their stories. “Students who chose the “learn” option partnered with Sunday Breakfast Mission,
a men’s shelter that offers a discipleship program to its longer-term residents.” In the final choice, “serve,” volunteers spent the day working at a soup kitchen.
“The whole day was focused on reconciling how homelessness and service relates to our Christian faith,” College sophomore Brittany Dickens said.
Students in Penn Hillel’s Alternate Spring Break program traveled to New Orleans for a week of gardening and volunteering with nonprofits outside of the city.
As a whole, students enjoyed working with the needy and one another.
“[It] was really great to be around college students who took the time to care for others,” Dickens said.