Annually, hundreds of Howard University students pass up vacations to help families around the country and abroad.

On Sunday, Howard University students stood along parts of Georgia Avenue near the campus, holding signs and buckets to collect donations-to help fund their trips as part of Howard University’s annual Alternative Spring Break program. The service-learning experiences are life-altering for the students, according to Dr. Paula Whetsel-Ribeau, who spearheads the program, which was created by the Office of the Dean of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. The current dean, the Rev. Dr. Bernard Richardson, remains a pivotal part of the program.

“They will be the world changers,” she said during chapel service last week. “They’ll be the difference-makers of the world.”

Howard University President Dr. Sidney Ribeau and his wife lead a commissioning service for students taking trips to five U.S. cities and Haiti. Worshippers joined Richardson in prayer for the students.

“Do you commit to serve and to offer all of the unique gifts and talents that you have to help rebuild broken communities and suffering people,” said Ribeau, faculty coordinator for ASB, reading part of the commissioning statement.

In unison, students responded, “I will. I am a servant of humanity.”

On Sunday, a special offering was collected for the student-run, student-organized and student-financed endeavor.

This year, more than 400 students will serve in schools, centers and other institutions in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, the District of Columbia and New Orleans as well as Haiti.

For more information about Howard’s Alternative Spring Break, which runs from March 10-March 18, or to donate visit their Web site.

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