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 Spring Break Service Trip

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You Don’t Pay Back a Favor: You Pay It Forward.

Here are some pictures from the Students Today, Leaders Forever Spring Break Service Trip 2011.

Students clean up Students in Memphis UMD Students
UMD students helping with a clean-up project in Memphis, Tenn.
UMD students helping with maintenance at a YMCA camp near Nashville, Tenn.
Christine Wilson UMD & Moorehead students Neil with resident
UMD students (Christine Wilson is prominently featured) painting a community center in Belleville, Ill.
UMD students are in orange shirts, Moorhead students are in black shirts. They met up in Nasvhille, Tenn.
Neil visiting with a resident at a nursing home in Beloit, Wisc.
Helping in Louisville Damage in Louisville on the bus
Helping to clean up the damage caused by a tornado near Louisville, Ky.
On the bus, day 1
pif1 pif2 pif3
Planning the trip


Kasey Byrne and Neil Witzig
Pre-trip service.
Pre-trip service.
2010 trip

This spring break, 23 UMD students have already signed up for a cross-country service trip so they can take those words to heart.

“We don’t want to be like other college students who spend break partying in Florida,” said Neil Witzig, one of the leaders of the trip. “We want to make a positive impact on people and communities.”

Those who participate will travel and volunteer in multiple communities in a nine-day whirlwind tour of the United States, culminating in Memphis, Tenn. A bus has been chartered and there are 45 seats available, so as of this posting, 22 additional students can join the trip. The cost is only $400 per student.

The UMD student group, Students Today, Leaders Forever, is responsible for organizing the trip. The group got the idea to bring the experience to UMD after Witzig and a handful of other students participated in the 2010 trip with the College of St. Scholastica, a long time participant in the Pay it Forward Tour. The experience was so influential for them that they decided they needed it to share it with UMD students.

The trip kicks off on March 11 and will take students to five different cities to volunteer. The final destination for the trip is Memphis, Tenn., but along the way they make stops in Janesville, Wisc., Belleville, Ill., Louisville, Tenn., Knoxville, Tenn., and Nashville, Tenn.

While on the tour, participants have the opportunity to learn about different social issues that are affecting different communities across the country. “The whole point is to bring positive energy, kindness, and charity to others,” said Witzig.

The schedule is a busy one, said Witzig. Each day finds them following this routine: after arriving in a city, they usually find themselves staying overnight in a gymnasium, church basement or similar setting. Then they spend the rest of the day volunteering. At about noon the next day, they head back onto the bus ready to drive to the next city. In each city, the group will help out at a variety of sites such as a facility for mentally challenged adults and a Habitat for Humanity house. They will do environmental work like hiking trail maintenance and help with food distribution at a food bank.

Many of the cities are a good six or seven hours apart. Overall, the students will find themselves spending more than forty hours total on the bus. But for the most part, they don't mind.

"The time on the bus is just as good as the time in the places we stop," said Kasey Byrne, another of the trip's organizers. "There are high energy activities, especially at 7 in the morning when we’re all trying to wake up on the way to go serve."

Once they reach Memphis, they will join up with other schools for the final volunteer project. The trip is part of a joint effort consisting of a total of 38 buses and over 1,500 students from college campuses across the Midwest, including UMD, North Dakota State University, Mankato State University, the College of St. Scholastica, and the U of M Twin Cities. With the combined efforts of all the tours, the Pay It Forward Tour will serve more than 200 communities over the nine-day period.

For information contact Students Today, Leaders Forever or call 218-213-3313.

Written by Zach Lunderberg and Fatima Jawaid

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