158 Students Embark on Service Trips for Winter Break

January 7, 2019

By Haley Johnson '19

On January 5, 158 Saint Anselm College students traveled to locations across the country to provide meaningful assistance to those in need through Winter Break Alternative (WBA), the Office of Campus Ministry’s Service & Solidarity Missions Trips Program. Twenty-four student-leaders are managing 12 groups of 10-16 participants as they spend the remainder of the week helping communities as close as Manchester, New Hampshire and as far as Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

This is the 29th year that service trips have been offered through Campus Ministry during the college’s winter and spring breaks. The responsibilities of each WBA group vary from site to site, but duties include home repair and construction, food service, hurricane relief, social justice, refugee resettlement, and more.

Two new sites were added this year due to the outpouring of students willing to serve. For the first time, WBA students are volunteering at Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, Texas, providing food, clothing, and hygiene products to homeless men and women.

The second new site is Bethlehem Farm in Talcott, W. Va., where a group is returning for the first time since 2012. The 12 students on this trip are assisting with home repair and farming while learning about what it means to live a sustainable and simple life.

Leading the trip to Bethlehem Farm are Kerrin Norton ’19, English and communication double major and Jillian Rigby ’20, a psychology major. “It’s really easy to get stuck in a bubble and forget about those struggling,” says Norton. “For me, WBA is a chance to give back.”

Rigby says the trips challenge her to get out of her comfort zone but also, “allow us to recenter ourselves with what is most important in our lives.” Read more about Rigby’s experience in her “Why I serve” blog post.

In addition to Talcott and Austin, students are serving in Camden, N.J., Baltimore, Md., Salem, W. Va., Atlanta, Ga., Manchester, N.H., New Orleans, La., Winston-Salem, N.C., Philadelphia, Pa., Phoenix, Ariz., and Puerto Rico. Professor Gilberto Ruiz, of the theology department and campus minister Kathryn (Kat) O’Loughlin ’10 are joining the students at Community Collaborations International in Puerto Rico.

Students raise money for Service & Solidarity Missions trips to supplement the costs of food, travel, and the use of volunteer facilities in each community. Groups hosted a bowling event, a corn hole tournament, and a pancake night. They also sold bracelets, phone accessories, and calendars. In addition, the college’s 2018 Giving Tuesday was dedicated to Service & Solidarity Missions Trips, raising more than $24,000 to support the program.

“Our trips provide an opportunity for students to put their faith in action; to experience life with another culture or population and take what they’ve learned back with them to help them grow into the men and women who live for others,” says Campus Minister Riley (Duggan) Casey ’15.

It is Casey’s and Campus Ministry’s hope that what the students hear, see, and learn during their week of service will stay with them and encourage them to integrate their experience into every aspect of their lives.

Students return to campus on Saturday, January 12.

See photos and read updates on the Service & Solidarity blog and on Twitter with #SACWBA: @saintanselm and @sta_campusmin.

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