Miner Challenge has been selling cookie dough on campus recently to help fund the Alternative Spring Break program, as they have in many previous years. Students have been selling sugar, chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookie dough to help fund the trip. This year, there are five different trips around the country where students will be helping out with a variety of needs. With one flying trip, one five day trip, and three standard nine day trips, the program is sure to make a difference in those areas.
The group of students flying out to Tuba City, Arizona, will help in Native American reservations and their native identities. They will be working directly with the Red Feather Development Group and the Moenkopi Senior center to help out with housing for native families. Specifically, they will be working with low income families and be exposed to new cultures such as Hopi and Navajo. The reservations are struggling to do well because of their poverty levels. They also have issues with suicides, drugs, and alcohol. Students will be repairing houses and helping teach upkeep of their residence so the natives can live in a better environment for years to come; and in turn, potentially boost happiness and the quality of life on the reservation.
Another group will be traveling to Colorado Springs to help veterans get accustomed back to civilian life. They will be working with the Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition in order to help find housing for these men and women. The Coalition also offers programs to help with mental health and PTSD for veterans. These students will gain a better understanding of what it takes for veterans to become successful in our society after serving our country in any capacity.
In New Orleans, MS&T students will be helping with wildlife conservation. With the help of Audubon Nature Institute, students will be helping with a variety of projects for their facilities in the conservation center. By doing construction projects, removing unwanted plant species, aiding with events, and working with the animals, these students will be helping preserve these endangered species in the 5,000 acre rehabilitation area.
In Charleston, West Virginia, more S&T students will be putting on an after-school camp for an underfunded school. The participating Miners are currently writing to the students as pen pals. West Virginia is among the five lowest teaching salary states. Due to this, extra classes and after-school programs are being cut, which limits the students education and can create issues for after-school care for working parents. By working with Step by Step West Virginia, our students hope to show a positive image of a well-rounded education and act as role models for these children. S&T students will also be hosting a mural painting day in the city to raise awareness of the issue at hand.
In Conway, Arkansas, students will be aiding in the fight against hunger and homelessness. Partnered with the Community Action Program for Central Arkansas, students will be working to distribute food to the people living below the poverty line. Ultimately, these people need food security to be successful in society and that is what our students are hoping to impact. Students will also be working with the Food Pantry and Project Homeless Connect to interact with the local people who are struggling with some of these issues.
Through Miner Challenge, students are growing as people by giving back to different communities across the nation and it is not too late to join or support this program in some manner. This program provides an opportunity to do so much more with students’ spring break and be more successful people because of the unique experience and a current project leader can attest to this fact.“Most people on campus that know Miner Challenge know it is a volunteering program. What they do not know is what else you have to gain from Miner Challenge.” She loves that these trips bring people together by building up communities. She said participants gain a community, support system, consistency, and bonds that last throughout college.