Students Serve the Community During Alternative Spring Break

NJIT students give up their spring break to do community service.

Norman Hamilton majors in computer science and runs track at NJIT. But he spent all Saturday working on an asparagus farm. He tilled the soil and sowed seeds for a crop that will bloom in spring. The farm, in Middletown, New Jersey, is run by OASIS Therapeutic Life Centers, a nonprofit group that runs farms for autistic adults. 

Hamilton, with help from 30 members of the Men’s and Women’s Track teams, worked the farm as part of Alternative Spring Break, an NJIT tradition where students forgo vacations and delve into community service. The students don’t get paid for the work; but they reap the wages of good conscience.

“Being part of Alternative Spring Break is a good way to give back to the community and to help people in need,” said Hamilton. “We worked hard all day and the farm looked great and we felt really good about helping the autistic community.”

Alternative Spring Break started Saturday, March 12 and continues through Thursday, March 17. During that time, hundreds of NJIT students will work on service projects from Essex County to the Jersey Shore. To cite just a few examples, they’ll clean up the pond in Branch Brook Park in Newark; tend to a community garden in Newark; volunteer at a community foodbank in Hillside; help construct a house for Habitat for Humanity in Bergenfield; landscape the Turtle Back Zoo in South Orange; and, help residents of Elizabeth adapt to climate change, especially the effects of increased flooding. 

"This a great week for student volunteers to network and forge memories and bonds with their peers and other participants," said Vivian Lanzot, director of civic engagement for Career Development Services.

Pritinder Singh, a sophomore majoring in Web and information systems who belongs to the Men’s Track team, agrees with Lanzot. He enjoyed toiling away at the asparagus farm Saturday.  

“I like helping the community and I learned something about farming,” said Singh. “And it was a great bonding experience for the track team members.”

By Robert Florida