New fall break experience focuses on hurricane recovery

East Carolina University students will travel to Washington, North Carolina, during fall break to volunteer with local nonprofit organizations and aid recovery efforts for Hurricane Florence.

The three-day trip, offered by the ECU Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, includes 25 hours of community service and a chance to learn how area leaders design the change they want to see in their communities.

ECU’s alternative break experiences include a variety of locations and emphases. Past experiences range from community gardening at home in Greenville to youth work as far away as Northern Ireland. Washington was chosen as a new alternative break location because organizers wanted to focus on regional transformation and help areas close to the university, according to the CLCE.

“We are excited to expose our students to local communities within the region to learn more about how leaders and community members are creating positive social change. Although Hurricane Florence shifted our focus a little, it is another opportunity for students to learn how local communities can come together in times of natural disasters and lead eastern North Carolina on the road of recovery,” said Nichelle Shuck, CLCE’s associate director.

On Saturday, students will spend the day at the Washington Salvation Army warehouse to help sort through the thousands of donations it received following the hurricane. On Sunday, students will be trained in Design for Change, a design-thinking curriculum they will use to identify possible solutions to social issues facing Pitt and Beaufort counties. The following day, students will share their action plans with the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce president before volunteering at a blood drive. The state is currently in a shortage of several blood types following Hurricane Florence, and students will gain knowledge of how blood donations impact disaster relief.

Ashley Shepard, a senior criminal justice major and Alpha Phi Omega president, said serving over fall break will be a rewarding experience, especially alongside fellow fraternity members. Alpha Phi Omega is a coed service fraternity.

“I want to serve over fall break because I want to give my time, energy and attention to people who need it. Being able to do that with some of my fraternity brothers is even better,” Shepard said. “We hope that we can inspire other students and other student organizations to be selfless.”

For more information on Alternative Break Experiences, visit