Spring Break… Service Style

It seems that campus is alive again about a one week hiatus for spring break and it also seems that each student has come back with a different story from their break. A lot of students relaxed at home, my boyfriend included (I’m a little bit jealous), about just as many probably went on vacation to somewhere in Florida or one of the Carolinas, but a fairly small handful decided to spend their spring break on an alternative spring break work trip. Each year various trips are planned, from volunteering at an orphanage in St. Croix, to cleaning up the Gulf in Florida, but this year there was a new kind of trip planned through Alpha Phi Omega. This trip would turn out to be one of the most life-changing experiences any of us had ever been on.

Twelve lucky students who are brothers in APO were selected to take their spring break and spend it at Give Kids the World Village (GKTW) in Kissimmee, Florida. Most have probably never heard of this small wonderland, but I hope that one day, every single person on this planet will know the name. GKTW is a village that sits on 70-acres right in the middle of Florida’s best child-friendly attractions. This foundation often works closely with Make a Wish and their sole goal is to give any child with a life-threatening illness the chance to visit all the attractions in the area and have a place to stay, all at no cost to their family. That’s right, every single family who stays at the Village (over 100,000 to date) receives accommodations, park tickets (Disney, Universal, and Sea World), food, flight, rental car, and much more… all for free.

Going into this trip, we were not told exactly what our duties would entail. All we knew was that this not for profit foundation runs on volunteers; 1,400 volunteer shifts need to be filled each week in order for the village to run smoothly. Our trip advisor prepared us as best as she could to interact with children with these life-threatening illnesses. One of the biggest things about GKTW and the child and family never have to worry about thinking about this illness that brought them there. For one week, they are able to be care free, with no hospitals, no needle-pricks, no doctors.

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