Soaring Service Leaders, a group of North Carolina Central University students dedicated to outreach and volunteer activities, is gearing up for a holiday service-learning trip that will take them through four cities in five days.
Fifteen students are participating in the second annual “Healing for the Holidays” event Dec. 14 – 19. The students will begin by preparing and serving dinner for guests at the Ronald McDonald House in Durham, then board a bus to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and New York City for more volunteer work.
The initiative is designed to follow the school’s “Truth and Service” motto by teaching students about social issues, such as homelessness and hunger, through action. After the volunteer experience, the students write a “reflection” paper and join in a group discussion to broaden their understanding of the issues.
Since the organization formed in 2009, members have served meals to the homeless with the nonprofit So That Others Might Eat (SOME), rebuilt houses and planted trees in hurricane-damaged parts of New Orleans, and given support to nonprofits that help victims of sex trafficking.
“I have learned what the power of the collective can do,” said Alphonso McEntire, a senior business administration major and Soaring Student Leader. “Before I went on these trips, I had never experienced that before.”
Earlinda Elder-Albritton, a staff advisor to the group who accompanied the students on their trip last December, said she has seen how students are transformed by helping others. Political science major Korey Mercer and family consumer science major Deidre Morgan are also student leaders for the trip.
“They learn to be more appreciative, not only of material things but of their families, their friends, and what is important,” Elder-Albritton said. “Service learning helps them see how they can make a difference in the world around them.”
In addition to serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House in Durham, the students this year will prepare and serve meals at SOME in Washington, the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore and a Meals on Wheels facility in New York City. The students also will visit the International Justice Mission in Washington and the New York Asian Women’s Center to continue helping victims of sexual exploitation and violence.
The students pay for the trip themselves and are raising money to cover the costs of food, lodging and transportation. The trip costs about $400 per student. With 15 students participating this year, the trip will cost a total of $6,000.
Anyone wishing to donate toward the trip may drop off or mail a check to the following location:
NCCU Soaring Service Leaders
C/O Professor Donald Barringer
H.M. Michaux, Jr. School of Education, Rm. 2082?
700 Cecil St.
Durham, N.C. 27707