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OSL offers community service trips for student volunteers

Coastal Carolina University’s Office of Student Life is sponsoring three alternative spring break trips for students. The three community service trips run from Saturday, March 4, to Saturday, March 11.

Four students traveled to Jacksonville, Fla., to work with nonprofit agencies that deal with domestic and sexual violence prevention. Torey Green and Heather Williams, the student site leaders, and Eddie Harris and Alexis Schemmel are working with the Children’s Home Society of Florida and the Quigley House. The Children’s Home Society works to heal children who have been hurt, create strong and stable families, and break the generational cycle of child abuse in families. The students are helping with maintenance, yard work and spring cleaning on CHS grounds.

The Quigley House offers individual, group and child counseling, a 24-hour shelter, 24-hour crisis hotline, community education and case management. All services are provided free to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The CCU students are assisting the Quigley House by helping organize its on-site thrift store.

Green, organizer of the Jacksonville trip, says she got the idea for the project at a conference she attended in Atlanta where she met and collaborated with Break Away, an alternative breaks organization. At the conference, Green worked directly with community partners to help deal with issues including sexual assault and domestic violence.

“[The trip] made me realize how hard the agencies work, and how much help they need on a regular basis,” Green says. “Jobs like simple maintenance are so important because they take a lot of that responsibility off those who are working with the organizations so that they can spend more time with the clients.”

For the second trip, five students and one staff adviser traveled to Asheville, N.C., to work with the homeless. Megan Foster and Maggie Head are the student site leaders and worked with Brit Mingee, Brandi Rogers and Tori Bostick, as well as staff adviser Jessica Combess. The trip was planned in association with the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly and other sponsoring organizations.
“I hope that I and my fellow team members can really make an impact on the people in Asheville,” says Foster, a junior communication student. “I am very passionate about service and being an active citizen in my community as well as in other places.” She hopes to gain extensive knowledge on the homeless epidemic and to bring that knowledge back to CCU and Myrtle Beach.

The Office of Student Life also offered a trip for students involved in Greek life on campus. Eleven students from eight different organizations attended the trip to Atlanta, Ga., to work with Central Night Shelter, a homeless shelter located in downtown Atlanta.

CCU students Megan Garnell, Madison Traina, Michelle Arnold, Aly Lung, Madisyn DeMara, Huston Todd, Akiiana Planter, Kyla Hilty, Manny Smalls, Amani Phipps and James Santore signed up for the trip. Brittany Bowles, director of fraternity and sorority life, accompanied the students on the trip. The student volunteers worked 12-hours shifts from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., taking shifts to stay up throughout the night to watch the shelter and assist the men with anything they need.

“The shelter is located in two churches right next to each other. For CCU to come in and take a week off [the shelter’s] hands by finding volunteers for every night of the week in both shelters is a tremendous help,” Bowles says.
Currently, the alternative spring break program is funded by the student participants and the Office of Student Life. The Atlanta trip is also sponsored in part by a GoFundMe page set up by the volunteers. Money from the GoFundMe goes toward buying supplies for the shelter.

As the program expands, other fundraising avenues will be explored to help offset costs, according to Elaine Giles, CCU coordinator of civic engagement. Giles can be contacted at 843-349-2939 or

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