Spring Break Means Service Learning for Students

James Madison University sends 10 volunteers to help the Community Service Center at Margaret Square

Nine students and a faculty member from James Madison University volunteered at Community Service Center’s Margaret Square site in order to support the low-income, high-risk children and families of the Meadows Community. The Community Service Center program at Margaret Square is a Winter Park program that promotes neighborhood-based activities focused on family preservation and economic sufficiency. These activities include parenting classes and job search assistance for adults as well as mentoring and academic tutoring for students.

The Alternative Spring Break program at JMU offers service-learning opportunities for college students interested in gaining real world experience while impacting communities in need. This year, JSU offered 36 different service sites across the United States and the world. One of these groups came to Central Florida to work with the Community Service Center, a division of Family Services of Metro Orlando.

In early March, JMU students made a lasting impact at Margaret Square. They spent time cleaning and painting the office, bathrooms and computer room so that they could be better utilized by members of the Meadows Community. Volunteers also participated in the After-School Achievement Program (ASAP!), helping the children with home work and playing games. One particularly hot afternoon, the college students even made homemade ice cream with the youth as part of a science experiment.

Student leaders plan every aspect of James Madison University’s alternative break trips. “I’m very impressed with the program and the students,” said Megan Hession, Program Coordinator at Margaret Square. “It is important for the children of the Meadows Community to connect with college students so that they realize that college can be a possibility for them as well.”

At the end of the trip, the volunteers were filled with enthusiasm about their trip. During program evaluations, one volunteer mentioned that “The best part was interacting with all the kids – hearing their stories and play games with them” and “I really enjoyed my time here… this is an important program for the children of Margaret Square.”

JMU students are no strangers to the Community Service Center at Margaret Square. In addition to this project, students have also worked with the Community Service Center during the 2009 Spring and Thanksgiving breaks.

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