By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
Spring Break at the Jersey Shore? That’s not where most college students go for sun and fun during their winter break from school. However, there are students who prefer an alternative spring break experience. And hundreds of them are coming to New Jersey communities hit hard by superstorm Sandy to help clean up, repair, and rebuild. “It’s so different. I feel like I am making a difference instead of laying on the beach,” said Emily Paull, a student at Ashford University in Iowa.
These alternative spring breaks are organized by a variety of groups. Among them, MTV, AmeriCorps, and the United Way of Northern New Jersey. CEO John Franklin says the United Way of Northern New Jersey is pleased to contribute funding for supplies and offer a unique opportunity for college students who want to give back. “We’re making an impact. We’ll have over 300 students coming to the region to help out over the next three weeks,” said Franklin. “We’ll make at least one family here happy.”
Michelle Davern is happy to have a handful of college students gutting her mom’s home in Lavallette. But it’s bittersweet because after the work is completed the home will be sold. Davern says that’s because her elderly mother, who has owned the house for decades, can’t afford the insurance and other costs. “She’s 92 .. she lives on social security,” Davern said with tears in her eyes. “She had no flood insurance …. so now we just have to sell it.”
Stories like these have touched many of the college students who come from different parts of the country. Emily Paull, from Ashford University, is helping to repair the East Dover Fire Company which sustained more than $100,000 in damages. “We’re only here a week but we’re so happy to help them … because this is their home ….,” said Paull.