Students take part in alternative spring break

When a dozen Western Carolina University students and staff members head off for spring break, March 2-6, in Nashville, Tenn., they won’t be in “Music City USA” to see the sights and meet the stars. Instead, the group will spend time volunteering with local community agencies over the five-day period as part of an alternative spring break service project.

The Alternative Break Program is an initiative of WCU’s Center for Service Learning, which co-sponsors trips for spring and fall breaks with Last Minute Productions, the student activity-programming board. The Nashville trip will be the fifth since 2005. That year, a small group of volunteers assisted with hurricane rehabilitation tasks in Pensacola, Fla.

“On the trips, students spend their break time performing service and learning about problems faced by members of communities with whom they typically would have little or no direct contact,” said Katie Graunke, program coordinator in the Center for Service Learning.
In Nashville, volunteers will serve at several sites, including:

  •  Second Harvest Food Bank, a food warehouse whose mission is to feed the hungry in Middle Tennessee while reducing food waste through an efficient system of collection and distribution. WCU volunteers will assist the food bank by spending time sorting food to be distributed to partner agencies.
  • Catholic Charities, which serves thousands of people in communities throughout Middle Tennessee by providing human services that enhance and enrich the quality of life for people in need. The WCU group will work with three Catholic Charities programs – Loaves and Fishes, the Adult Day Program and the Living at Home Program.
  • Monroe Harding, an organization that partners with at-risk youth and families to provide a bridge toward independence and success. During their visit, WCU volunteers will spend time on cleaning and beautification projects around the organization’s facility.
  • YWCA Domestic Violence Center, the largest domestic violence shelter in the state of Tennessee. The WCU group will provide a “TLC Day at the Center,” helping with various clean-up activities and working in the donations shed.

For more information, contact Katie Graunke at or (828) 227-2592.