Apr. 7, 2011
Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the National Park Service saw 41 students, two faculty members and one staff member from Shawnee State University working to help clean up sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway during the Alternative Spring Break organized by Nikki Karabinis, coordinator of SSU's Center for Community Service.
In order for trips such as these to become a reality, students had to do a great deal of fundraising.
"Monetary support from family members, friends and organizations is extremely important in making our trips possible," said SSU student Bryanne Johnson.
In a thank you letter to SSU, the Park Rangers in the Blue Ridge Mountains said that the SSU students and staff "saved the National Park Service several weeks of work by their unselfish labor to help maintain our largest national park. They worked tirelessly on the Price Lake Campgrounds, the Price Lake Picnic area, and completed 26 miles of carriage trails and cleanup of Moses Cone Manor along the parkway."
The letter goes on to say that it is obvious that Shawnee State University has a commitment to their students to provide them with a great education and teach them to give back their time in support of community service.
This year's ASB explored the history and culture of Appalachia, specifically in Boone, N.C., and in particular focused on poverty and the environment. Service projects included work with Habitat for Humanity and Friends of the Blue Ridge.
"One of the intentions of Alternative Break trips is to get students excited about making a difference in the lives of others and to take their service experience back to their community and make a difference there too," Karabinis said.
When the students returned from the trip, 15 of them decided to do some cleanup along the Ohio River banks near the university. While they were picking up trash, some walkers nearby noticed what they were doing and got their own trash bags and started helping with the cleanup.
They removed 3 huge truck loads of trash from the flood wall and Ohio River bank.
"If these students hadn't gone on this trip this probably would have never happened," Karabinis said. "Many of the students didn't know each other before the trip, and many of these students didn't realize how big of a difference a small group of students could make."