Students from Sacramento State put aside their spring break plans to devote a week to Sac State Serves’ Alternative Break, which organizes daily programs to assist the community.
Alternative Break is an event held during breaks in the semester which gathers students who would like to participate in volunteer work for nonprofit organizations.
Alternative Break for Sacramento State students began March 19 at the Sacramento Public Library in downtown Sacramento.
The 12 students who signed up for Monday helped reorganize areas of the library such as the biography section and the archived videos.
Senior communication studies major Jacob Guinn said no matter how small the tasks are — such as taking biography labels off of books — the group still makes an impact by helping out.
“We’re making very little impact on the community, but we’re making a huge impact by helping something like removing stickers,” Guinn said. “In the bigger picture, it’s not a huge thing, but someone needs to do it.”
Junior social work major Tammy Martin was the team leader for Monday. She said Alternative Break is a good opportunity because of the social and community service aspect.
“I like getting together with other students and going out into the community and doing something,” Martin said. “It feels a little more relaxed because you know it’s not a homework assignment. It’s something we’re doing because we want to be here.”
Martin said Alternative Break eases the stress students feel during the daily grind of the semester.
“You’re relaxed and having fun with other students, but you’re also doing something and helping out in the community,” Martin said. “I like that because everybody’s kind of ‘We’re on break. We have homework to do, but right now, we’re just going to do something fun.’”
Seven volunteers for Alternative Break spent another day packing up meals for the seniors with Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels provide more than 2,000 meals per day for seniors 60 years or older.
David Morikawa, volunteer director for Meals on Wheels, said approximately 1,200 of those seniors are homebound who are in need of meals. They are not able to prepare meals on their own, so they have volunteer drivers who help deliver the food to participants five days a week.
“Approximately $1 million per year is credited to volunteers who work (a combined total of) 5,000 hours each month; without that help, we would be bankrupt by now,” Morikawa said.
Sophomore pre-business major Kristina Vieira said she decided to volunteer to make some friends and give back to the community.
“I enjoyed helping the community and made great friends,” Vieira said.
Senior nursing major Mayra Flores said besides giving back to the community; volunteering gives her the opportunity to learn more about organizations.
“Here at Meals on Wheels, I learned about who qualifies and what services they offer. This is important since I can recommend this service to patients I work with,” Flores said.
After five hours of work, Sac State students stacked 3,000 meals, 1,894 meals were assembled and 900 peach cups were filled and sealed.
Wednesday’s service project was at the Sacramento affiliated Habitat for Humanity, which helps build homes for low-income families.
Habitat for Humanity serves the community by building five to six homes a year and helps put about eight families in homes.
Eight volunteers from Alternative Break helped clean up the construction area by clearing the floor of bars and wooden planks.
Junior social work major Tammy Martin, Wednesday’s team leader, said out of all the service projects on Alternative Break, working for Habitat for Humanity was the day she was looking forward to since she had not done it before.
“I’ve done Meals on Wheels before, I love doing that,” Martin said. “I do it when I can, but I’ve never done Habitat for Humanity. I love getting dirty with the hammers and the nails and painting and just building a home for people who maybe could not afford to do it. I think it’s one of the greatest programs we have.”
Graduate government student Virginia Martucci said she chose to work with Habitat for Humanity because she worked with them before. As an undergrad she helped out with the efforts of Hurricane Katrina with her father and brother.
“He just went to volunteer for Habitat and stayed for three weeks at the camp there and gutted houses with random people,” Martucci said. “He wanted to get a team and go with his coworkers and myself and him and we spent the whole week. It was awesome and great. It was probably why I picked this because I had such good memories of that.”
Five volunteers helped out the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for seven hours, cleaning the store and arranging their materials. Volunteers organized tiles by sizes and colors and also the toilets by shapes.
Sophomore business major Jennifer Jimenez said she participated in Alternative Break because she wanted to do something other than sleep in.
“Other students should volunteer for self-fulfillment, to learn new things, meet new people and just mainly volunteer for our community,” Jimenez said. “My favorite memory would be when we were launching the garbage into the dumpster; it was a group effort with lots of danger, laughter and group bonding.”
Senior communication studies major Jacob Guinn volunteered four days during the week. He said being a student and volunteering his time over break convinces him there are other sides to the stereotypical college experience, like altruism and community participation.
“To gather like-minded students together for services shows the community that university students are concerned about their role in the bigger picture of life and that is a great inspiration and motivation,” Guinn said. “At the end of the day, partially because I was worn out physically, it was rewarding to think back on all the areas in the Habitat for Humanity warehouse I was able to affect in some way.”
Guinn said the entire experience humbled him and allowed him to step into unfamiliar territory.
“Alternative break gives me a sense of perspective on my life and all the opportunities I have as a student at Sac State. Sometimes it takes getting out of my comfort zone and volunteering in an unfamiliar situation to discover the community benefit of organizations we serve,” Guinn said.
Alternative Break ended with Sacramento State students volunteering with Food Bank & Family Services, bagging food and clothing for families in need.
Nine volunteers were bagging fresh fruit, vegetables and a variety of produce into smaller quantities of items purchased or donated. More volunteers helped in the clothing department.
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services has been serving 10,000 men, women and children every single month since 1976. Food is one of seven services the organization offers; it also offers clothing, parent education, adult education, youth education, women’s wisdom art and senior programs.
Communication director Kelly Siefkin said Food Bank & Family Services has 4,000 volunteers annually with twelve locations in Sacramento.
“Our goal is to provide them with five days of supply or food and help them with any challenges they may have,” Siefkin said. “It’s so great having Sac State students wanting to give back on their spring break. This is wonderful to see them making direct impact on their community by volunteering.”
Junior sociology major Cameron Brown said the volunteer opportunity was both an advantage to the community and himself.
“I consider myself to be a servant of the community and so I feel the best way I can do that is by sharing love and I define love as caring, doing, sacrificing and respecting others,” Brown said.