For some college students, spring break means a chance to go home and see family and friends. For others, it means a trip to Florida to spend some time in the sun. But for an ever-increasing number of Ohio State students, it means a chance to do something good.
The school’s Buck-I-SERV program continues to get bigger and bigger, and this year, OSU has 32 different community service-based trips that students can take over spring break. Opportunities range from putting together food packages in our nation’s capital, and helping Habitat for Humanity in Florida, to helping college education seem obtainable to students in rural southeastern Ohio.
Ohio State students will fan out across the nation and in some cases go overseas to serve, much to the delight of community service coordinator Brieanne Beaujolais of Ohio State’s Office of Student Life.
“I’m continuously inspired by the students that it attracts,” Beaujolais said. “I think that they find it really rewarding to be able to help people and give back to the community.”
Beaujolais is no stranger to Buck-I-SERV, having served as an advisor on two trips – visits to Slidell, La., to work with Habitat for Humanity and to Baltimore to aid adults suffering from developmental disabilities – before taking on a more full-time role.
“Serving as an advisor was really transformational for me,” she said. “Students are really immersed in doing service for a week; it’s pretty intense service time. And then because of the travel aspect, you really get to know each other well and reflect on the experience. That allows for a lot of growth and development, and even as an advisor that was neat to experience and really got me hooked on the program.”
Beaujolais now oversees one of the school’s most rapidly growing student organizations since it was introduced more than a decade ago. During the school’s winter break, more than 800 students applied for 350 spots; throughout the entire academic year, the school will send a record 1,000 students on 72 trips across the nation and world.
As one would expect, the charities and foundations that receive help from Buck-I-SERV are varied, giving the school’s massive undergraduate population a chance to find a cause that hits home.
“I think the variety of service that we do is really something that is notable about Buck-I-SERV,” said third-year psychology major Rebecca Weisshaar, a member of organization’s student advisory board. “We try to hit every single service issue there is from animal rights to homelessness to HIV/AIDS to poverty and hunger. The variety of trips that we have I think is a really big selling point for Buck-I-SERV because people can get on a trip that deals with an issue that they’re passionate about.”
Weisshaar has already taken one community service trip with the organization, visiting South Carolina to work with Habitat for Humanity last summer. Much like Beaujolais, she has found the organization something that is difficult to give up.
“I think one of the big things for me that made me pursue being a part of Buck-I-SERV on the advisory board was how much pride you take in your school,” Weisshaar said. “There are only a few 10-person trips, which is awesome, and when you go out with that small group, your main identity with these strangers is that you all go to Ohio State.”
She added, “When you go somewhere and do service, we’re people’s only exposure to Ohio State in certain areas. And that’s a great thing.”
For more information about Buck-I-SERV, visit http://buckiserv.osu.edu/