TRAVERSE CITY — A tornado-ravished town in Oklahoma is a far cry from the sun- and rum-soaked beaches and hotel pools where many college students spend spring break.
But six Northwestern Michigan College students will load up a van Sunday and drive roughly 16 hours to Moore, Okla., where they’ll help with relief efforts in a community still reeling from a devastating tornado that ripped through the town last May.
Christina Walsh, president of NMC’s Alternative Spring Break student group, admitted some might find it strange that she and her classmates will road-trip to Moore rather than party destinations like Daytona Beach, Panama City or South Padre Island.
“As much as I’d like to drink with my friends on the beach, I guess for me personally, I have problems and issues I face on a daily basis,” Walsh said. “When I go and help these people, it kind of puts things in perspective and reminds me of the blessing I have in my life and the advantages I have.”
“We have a saying that is ‘We didn’t waste our spring break; we made the most of it.’”
Walsh, 25, will embark on the alternative spring break trip, a collaboration between the college and United Way of Northwest Michigan, for the second time this year. She spent spring break last year in St. Bernard, La., a parish near New Orleans still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
NMC students there worked with a local relief group to demolish ruined homes and rebuild others. Walsh said it was amazing to meet St. Bernard residents who were happy to be alive, even though they lost everything in the hurricane.
The experience put things in perspective, she said, so much so that she decided to pursue a major in social work at NMC.