Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Collegiate Challenge - Spring Fever

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ―  Mark Twain

It’s still February but the days are getting longer and the skies already seem bluer.  The groundhog’s shadow notwithstanding, it feels like the transition to the next season is underway.  Spring is a magical time that lifts moods and raises spirits.  My mother rejoices every year when the crocuses bloom because she knows Spring is on its way.

My touchstone is daffodils.  When I start spotting the cheerful yellow blooms that tell me Spring has arrived - my heart nearly sings.   What is the sign of the season that lifts your eyes skyward, makes your heart giddy, and urges your legs to run with the joy and abandon of youth?

Each March a migration of youthful abandon sends students to Florida and other sunny climes for a week of NOT STUDYING called Spring Break.  Many students spend a week enjoying cruises, beach sprees, and ski trips.  They return to school with sunburned noses and fabulous tales of hijinks and romance.   But a beautiful subset of students pursues a different type of Spring Break.

These students will travel from distant points like New Jersey and Illinois to Cabarrus County to spend a week building homes with Habitat for Humanity through a program called Collegiate Challenge.  Why would these students choose to spend their Spring Break this way?  Because…  Well because they are still fresh and new and can still see the promise in the world.  They’ve not become jaded or blasé about their blessings.  They want to give back.  They want to serve.

Last year one of our Collegiate Challenge schools - Illinois Institute of Technology - created a gorgeous banner comprised of handwritten notes that told why they chose to pursue an alternative Spring Break and here’s a sample of what they wrote.

“Helping others gives my life purpose. My life would be incomplete without it.” – Khaleela

“It makes me feel good inside and out.” – Joshua

“Helping others is the highest cause.  We each have an innate moral responsibility to improve the world for the less fortunate.” -  Romir

“It gives me a chance to say Thank You to my community and gain perspective about life.” – Kathryn

"It is so rewarding to help those in need.” – Marissa

“I want to create foundations for brighter tomorrows.” – Jonathan

It’s enough to make your heart ache with the beauty of the sentiments.  And for a moment you remember your younger self and your own idealism.

This year four groups of students will sleep in Concord churches instead of beach hotels.  They will chug water on construction sites rather than pursuing Dionysus’ delights.  These students will return to school (Waynesburg University - PA, Stockton University - NJ, Northwestern University – IL,  and Gates County High School – NC) with blistered hands and light-filled souls from giving their time and talents to help a family get closer to homeownership. 

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ― Franz Kafka

We appreciate these students more than words can say.  The tasks they perform while on Habitat construction sites are vital to building a home.  But the light and joy they bring through simply being themselves adds another essential element that improves the lives all who recognize the beauty inherent in joyful abandon.

If you would like to help with Collegiate Challenge by providing lunch, dinner, snacks or water for the groups please contact Dyana Bostian.

No comments:

Post a Comment