Breaking the spring break tradition

PLATTSBURGH - It's not always about fun and sun when students going on spring break.

Dr. Colin L. Read, professor of economics and finance at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, has found more and more students are interested in an initiative he established locally called the "Alternative Spring Break."

It was last year when Read and his daughter - then a high school student - traveled to Louisiana during her school's mid-winter recess. The two were part of a group helping communities still reeling from Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.

"We came back up and I saw a letter to the editor in the Press-Republican asking why people spend all this money going to other communities to fix them up when there are plenty of needs right here," said Read.

When Read sat back and thought about the cost of airfare and other travel arrangements necessary to do volunteer work out of the area, he said the person who wrote the letter had "a pretty good point."

"Just imagine if people in Louisiana would've used some of that money to fix up their places and we used some of that money to fix up places up here," Read said. "We could've probably done a lot more good with that money."

That motivated Read to establish the Alternative Spring Break, giving students - and anyone else for that matter - a chance to do volunteer work in the community, specifically focusing on helping senior citizens.

"I even mentioned it to the local Rotary Club at a meeting and the next thing you know, I've got like six or eight of them volunteering," said Read. "So, all kinds of people end up coming together to help organize this."

Read said another important part to making the three-day event happen was coordinating with Maria Alexander, executive director of the Senior Citizens Council of Clinton County. Alexander reached out to seniors to see if any were in need of assistance through the project. And, there was no shortage of people, said Alexander.

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