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Students to use spring break as a way to give back

Bulls Service Break takes students on trips to help others in need through programs such as Meals on Wheels.

This spring break, Bulls Service Break (BSB) volunteers will be skipping out on extravagant plans to dedicate their time to those in need.

BSB is a week long, service-based journey that offers USF students the chance to volunteer with humanitarian organizations across the country. BSB trips focus on social justice issues such as human trafficking and public health disparities.

To be considered for the program, students fill out an application and go through an interview process. At the end of the process, students are matched to a trip based on their demonstrated interest in a social issue and their ability to add value to the team dynamic. Once the team is selected, BSB hosts mandatory training sessions so students can familiarize themselves with trip expectations and the other volunteers.

This year’s public health initiative will bring nine BSB volunteers and three chaperones to Savannah, Georgia to volunteer with Meals on Wheels, an organization that provides freshly prepared foods to the elderly. Student volunteers will interact with seniors at an assisted living community, participating in activities such as gardening and music therapy.

For Lauren Kenney, trip coordinator and a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences, this year’s trip relates to a personal passion.

“Senior citizens are often overlooked in society and left in these nursing homes without families to watch over them,” Kenney said. “I volunteer for this cause because I want them to know they are not forgotten.”

This year’s cause has also managed to strike a chord with some of the other volunteers as well, such as Ally Erikson, a sophomore majoring in integrative biology.

“By volunteering just a week of your time over spring break, you can help these senior citizens be in a better emotional and dietary state too,” Erikson said.

In addition to her desire to be of service to others, Erikson also has personal convictions behind her selflessness. Erikson’s interest in volunteering with senior citizens started when she spent time at her grandmother's social functions.

“In my experience, when individuals get older, they start to get embarrassed or ashamed that they can’t provide for themselves like they used to,” Erikson said.

Erikson was also encouraged to partake in BSB by her sister, a USF alumna, who also participated in the program.

“(My sister) would come home in high spirits, excited to share stories about how she made a positive impact in someone’s life,” Erikson said.

Erikson was intrigued to hear about how beneficial these trips are to people on both sides, so last year, she signed up for her first BSB trip, which wouldn’t be her last.

“On the last day of my 2017 trip, the senior citizens went out of their way to tell us how appreciative they were that we came,” Erikson said. “It was at that moment I realized I wanted to devote my life to helping people.”