SRU students bypass sand for service during spring break

White tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue

SRU students participating in the CareBreaks program at Carolina Tiger Rescue will get to work with big cats like this white tiger.

Feb. 16, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Spring break is usually the time when a young college student's thoughts turn to sun, sand and surf.

But for a group of more than 60 Slippery Rock University students, their minds will be focused on animal rescue, urban sustainability and disaster relief as part of the University's Spring 2016 CareBreaks community service program.

CareBreaks occur during fall, winter and spring breaks and provide SRU students with domestic and international community service opportunities.

Since 1994, more than 1,200 SRU students, faculty and staff have spent in excess of 200,000 hours tutoring children, building low-income housing, assisting the homeless and hungry, protecting the environment and many other selfless endeavors across the country and around the world.

The Spring 2016 CareBreaks include opportunities to work with a tiger rescue agency, care for chimpanzees and other animals, provide flood cleanup and promote sustainability in an urban environment, including:

• Carolina Tiger Rescue - Pittsboro, North Carolina
Tiger Rescue works to protect tigers in captivity and the wild. Students will work with the site manager to build new enclosures, assist in grounds keeping and maintenance.

• "Save the Chimps" - Fort Pierce, Florida
Students will help create enrichment devices and spend time preparing meals for the animals.

• Oatland Island Wildlife Center - Savannah, Georgia
Students will work with animals and help the organization in its international advocacy for animals.

• Hands On Nashville - Nashville, Tennessee
Students will work together on sustainability projects in an urban environment. They will work with various local organizations.

• Community Collaborations International - Charleston, South Carolina
Students will work on disaster relief and cleanup efforts following flooding along the South Carolina coast.

"These trips are eye opening and very educational experiences," said Abby Fugh, an SRU sophomore from Butler, who serves as a CareBreaks co-coordinator. "Having taken part in an international trip myself, I can share with the students who are thinking about taking part, what a life-changing experience these kinds of trips can be.

"You're taken out of your comfort zone and placed in a situation that is far from luxurious, but the return you get from performing service is incredible. Helping those in need really is its own reward, not to mention the friendships you develop with the people you meet at the locations, as well as becoming a 'family' with the people you're traveling with."

Charlie Judge, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, echoed Fugh's "world beyond your door" viewpoint.

"The idea behind CareBreaks trips is to get our students to understand that giving back to the community, locally or otherwise, is incredibly important," said Judge.

"Of course there are projects in and around the Slippery Rock area to take advantage of, but realizing that (students) are part of a larger global society, being able to travel elsewhere and seeing differences in communities, its peoples and their needs provides everyone with a different perspective."

Logan Steigerwalt, an SRU junior from Northampton, and two-time CareBreaks co-coordinator, added that no matter who or what is being aided, students can't help but feel changed afterward.

"Many students speak to how humbling the CareBreaks experiences can be after they return," said Steigerwalt. "No matter if they're working with people or animals, being involved in making a change and helping others can be very humbling, especially when you're there on the ground, hands on, and seeing the immediate effect of what you're doing has on the lives of others."

Faculty, staff and student advisers travel with students on the trips, which cost participants $250 each. For more information, call Judge at 724.738.2697 or stop by the CSIL office on the second floor of the Smith Student Center.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robert.king@sru.edu