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With spring break approaching, Student Life is offering seven alternative spring break options for students.

Eastern students will be traveling to:

Jacksonville, Fla.

Selma, Ala.

Charleston, S.C.

New Orleans

Washington D.C.

Outer Banks, N.C.

Caretta, W. Va.

Will Keaton, the assistant director of student life-community service, said the alternative break program is seven years old and offers alternative fall, winter, spring and summer break trips.

Keaton said each trip would have 11 students, two selected student leaders and one faculty/staff member. There are limited spaces left on all of the trips except the New Orleans and Outer Banks, N.C. trips. The trips are first come first serve and started the first week of the spring semester.

Each trip planned is centered on a key social issue and a service project for the students to partake in, said Keaton.

“The trips are learning opportunities,” Keaton said. “We try to have a wide variety of service issues. We make sure the issue relates back our region. Hunger is a big deal on this campus and in the region. They go and come back here, then want to do something about the issue here.”

Fifty percent of Student Life’s community service budget goes toward these trips, Keaton said. The student fees help go toward paying for the rest.

The program usually plans five trips, but this year they planned eight, Keaton said. The eighth trip fell through because the community partner had a leadership change and could not host the trip. Those students already signed up were given the opportunity to transfer over to another trip. Keaton said trips were added because so many students were signing up and were being wait listed.

Jacob Garrison, 20, a biology junior from Manchester is signed up for his fifth alternative break trip and was selected as a student leader for Washington D.C.

Garrison traveled on the 2012 fall trip to Washington D.C., the 2013 spring trip to Charleston, S.C., the spring 2014 trip New York and the summer 2014 trip to New Orleans.

Garrison said he thinks alternative trips are good for students to get involved with the service culture.

“It’s good to get out of your niche,” Garrison said. “The trips have helped me appreciate that everyone is different but at the end of the day we all need food, shelter and an education.”

Students participate in about seven to eight hours a day of service, Garrison said. Around 5 p.m. or so the students can go out on the town, sightsee and experience the culture of the location.

“New Orleans has been my favorite trip so far,” Garrison said. “I learned a lot about being appreciative of your community and coming together to build a future after a catastrophe.”

The students on the summer 2014 New Orleans trip worked with the St. Bernard Project rebuilding organization. Garrison said they helped paint the exterior of a house, sand down the interior and other tasks to help complete the house.

“I felt really accomplished,” Garrison said. “I did something that would make a lasting impact on the community.”

Keaton said he went on his first alternative trip when he was in his undergrad and loved it so much he ended up making it his career.

“These trips are good opportunities for students to learn about themselves,” Keaton said. “It’s an intensive way to look at service in a place that students wouldn’t have had the chance to go to. An alternative break experience can change your life.” Prices range for the trips between $240 and $333.

Students can still sign up for the alternative break. Contact Keaton at