Over 800,000 men, women and children are homeless each night across the U.S., according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
One in nine people worldwide suffer from chronic undernourishment, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, one out of every six discharges in the U.S. are from children 17 years old or younger.
This year for winter break, three groups of Keene State College students will go on Alternative Break to help others and educate themselves about issues that are faced by many people every day across the country.
The group Hunger and Homelessness will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Senior Casey Matthews is a leader of the group and said they will have opportunities such as helping in a soup kitchens, shelters, clothing pantries and more.
“The biggest thing I keep pushing is, it can happen to anyone. 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness per year,” said Matthews.
KSC has a partnership with Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homelessness, and Matthews said the group is hoping to do anything they can to help.
Matthews said she had previously gone on an Alternative Break to Asheville, North Carolina, and the Grand Canyon to help with park services on environmental stewardship.
“After doing different types of service projects, I came home and tried to incorporate what I learned there into my daily life,” said Matthews.
She mentioned, after learning more about homelessness in America, she has become more aware of homelessness in the Keene area.
The group Food Security and Sustainable Living will travel to a 26-acre farm on an island in the middle of Nicaragua to learn about food sustainability said junior Lauren O’Brien, one the group leaders.
According to KSC’s community service webpage, “Participants will have the chance to explore permaculture design, natural building, chocolate making and more… Afternoons will be spent in workshops, volunteering at a community center and exploring the sights and culture of the surrounding area.”
O’Brien said that she wanted to lead an alternative break this year after going on a trip her freshman year to the Dominican Republic, involving the water crisis.
“It’s good for us to get away from typical college break. We have so much privilege that it’s good to put to good use. We get to educate ourselves on food sustainability and food security and bring it back to KSC,” said O’Brien.
A third group is traveling to Memphis, Tennessee, to spend time with children who are in the hospital.
Sarah Parece is a senior and one of the leaders of the group.
Parece said the group will be at the “Le Bonheur” hospital, which is French for happiness, to do arts, crafts, watch movies and much more to help the children forget why they are there.
“For them it’s important to have someone other than a doctor or parent… It means a lot for kids to have someone to talk to who is around their age,” said Parece, who mentioned the best part of the trip is seeing the smiles on the childrens’ faces.
Parece said the previous Alternative Break trip she went on was the reason she changed the direction she wanted to go for her major.
Parece was a psychology major who was also studying education, now she is focusing on psychology and plans on getting her master’s degree in Child Life.
The KSC website said these service-based projects will help students learn about issues that are currently happening in the community and enhance the growth of the students who are going on the trip.
Colby Dudal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org