Alternative Break Service Trips

Each year, the Volunteer Center and the Center for Student Life at Madison College provide opportunities for students to participate in service trips to various locations in the United States. Alternative break service trips usually happen over winter break in early January and over spring break in March or April. Any student registered for degree credit courses during the semester of the trip is eligible to participate. 

2018 Spring Trips

2019 Spring Trips

Sunday, March 17 – Saturday, March 23, 2019

Heifer International, Perryville, Arkansas
“Committed to Ending World Hunger and Poverty”

We know that no single organization and no number of isolated projects can address the systemic causes of poverty and hunger. Our approach involves enhancing the capacity of vulnerable small-scale farmers, especially women, to secure their livelihoods. Multiplied by strong social capital and women’s empowerment, our work results in a sustainable solution to world hunger and poverty. 

Heifer's work in the United States involves building and reviving local food systems for farmers in one of the poorest regions in the United States. They help low resource, small-scale farmers build livestock businesses and local food value chains, which connects them to consistent and profitable markets. This program aims to increase incomes for local producers and improve the viability of their farms. It also spurs rural economic development by creating new employment opportunities and increasing the availability of nutritious, sustainably grown food in these regions. Their goal is to increase the average income of participating farmers by at least 30 percent in these areas, provided them with a living wage. The farmer-owned businesses established through this program will support farm families and rural communities beyond the project duration.

This Alternative Break combines experiential learning programs, such as the Global Gateway experience and team building, with service activities. The service allows participants to give back while experiencing something for the first time - like milking a goat or harvesting vegetables.

Cost: $550 Includes transportation, lodging, food, and educational program

Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort, Florida Panhandle
Coordinated through Community Collaborations, International (CCI)

Hurricane Michael smashed into the Florida panhandle and the result left the local communities in complete disarray and in need of help from volunteers. Working with CCI, a holistic approach to community recovery will be executed. In addition to homes directly impacted by the weather, local community organizations, such as food banks and after school programs, struggle to meet the increased needs of their clients and constituents. Many of these organizations and their staff members have suffered direct impact from the flood.  CC International volunteers will work to help these organizations serve their constituents and get back on their feet.

Service Work May Include: preparing homes for reconstruction, including gutting, mold removal, and reconstruction activities.  Working with the local community organizations and after school programs.

Cost: $550 Includes transportation, lodging, food, tools and educational program

Monday, March 18 – Friday, March 22, 2019

Local Alternative Spring Break: Madison-area

New for 2019! This alternative spring break will have a local focus on meeting community needs in the Madison, WI area. Each day, the student service team will meet at the Truax campus and drive to a different community location to volunteer. Volunteer experiences will explore environmental, social, and economic needs in the community. Students will plan and prepare a meal for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House; help with daily operations at River Food Pantry; sort and deliver book donations for the Madison Reading Project; support students at Leopold Elementary School; and participate in an outdoor service activity. At each site, we will learn about the organization and how its mission addresses community needs. We will enjoy group teambuilding and reflection activities throughout the week.

There is no overnight commitment for this service trip. Participating students commit to service during the day (morning and afternoon) for Monday-Friday of spring break week. Students must obtain their own transportation to the Truax campus each day, and then transportation is provided from Truax to the volunteer site and back to campus at the end of the day.

Cost: $95 Includes transportation, daily lunch, snacks, t-shirt, and educational program


To apply for the Arkansas or Florida trips, submit your online application

The application for out-of-state trips is due by February 1, 2019. A non-refundable $250 deposit to secure your spot is due by February 8, 2019. Only 11 students will be able to attend Heifer Ranch, and 18 students will be able to attend Hurricane Relief with CCI. The deposit payment by check or cash can be paid in Student Life at the Truax Campus until the trip is full. The remaining $300 will be due by March 1, 2019.  

To apply for the local Madison-area Alternative Spring Break option, complete this online application.

The application for the local Alternative Spring Break is due by February 22, 2019. A $45 deposit to secure your spot is due by February 22, 2019. Approximately 12 students will be able to participate in the Madison-area Alternative Spring Break. The deposit payment by check or cash can be paid in Student Life at the Truax Campus until the trip is full. The remaining $50 will be due by March 8, 2019.

Raise Funds

Here are some simply ideas for raising the money you need for a trip.

Social Media Networks
Use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to ask for donations from your virtual community of friends, family, instructors, coworkers and colleagues. Ask others to repost your information to maximize the power of your message. To boost your results, create a free fundraising web page on an online fundraising platform like GoFundMe, which will allow you to easily collect donations from your Facebook friends and email contacts.

It may sound old-fashioned, but there is a reason why big organizations still use door-to-door fundraising as their primary method. Be sure to provide informational material about the cause for which you are raising funds. Your Madison College OneCard shows others that you are who you say you are.

Corporate Sponsorship
Contact local businesses and ask them to sponsor your cause in exchange for a marketing opportunity, such as having a company logo proudly displayed on a shirt you will wear while you are volunteering and/or while you are on-campus. Send letters to your local newspaper thanking the companies that sponsored you on the trip.

Matching Donations
Many employers offer a matching donation program for their employees, in which they will match a certain percentage of funds raised for a charitable cause. Just ask! Sometimes an employer who has never been part of such a program before will sign on because you are valued as an employee and they want to be a part of your growth and success.

Hold a Garage Sale
Clear out the basement and closets of all your unneeded items and host a garage sale, with profits going to support your cause. When advertising your garage sale, be sure to explain that this is a garage sale for charity. If you don't have a lot of things of your own to sell, consider talking to relatives with overflowing closets, garages and basements. In exchange for helping them clean up and clear out, they may let you keep the profits.

Host a Bake Sale
Everyone likes home-baked goodies, which is why a bake sale is one of the simplest fundraising ideas! Host your bake sale at a high traffic location, such as your church, outside a business (with their permission), at an event (with permission) or at your charity garage sale.

Set up an aluminum can recycling bin at local businesses (with permission). Place a sign on the bin, letting people know that they're helping a worthy cause. 

Place an Article in Your Local Newspaper
Write an article for your local newspaper about the cause for which you are raising funds and ask for donations. Your local bank can help you set up a charitable account, if necessary.

Local Service Clubs
Just because you're an individual raising money doesn't mean you can't ask groups for help. Service organizations such as the Lions Club or Knights of Columbus may be able to assist you.

Host a Party
Contact your favorite home sales party person, such as a Pampered Chef or Mary Kay representative, and ask if they would be willing to donate their profits from your party to your fundraising efforts. In exchange, they'll receive new potential party leads and repeat customers from your family and friends who attend. If you, your friends and family members aren't the sales-party-types, consider hosting a party where each guest pays a determined amount, has a nice evening, and you have profits above and beyond what you spend for food, beverages, entertainment, etc. Invited guests need to know up front that you are raising money to help fund your service trip.

  1. Attend the scheduled service trip information session.
  2. Get your finances together to cover trip costs ($250 deposit at time of application and $300 payment-in-full once selected for a Service Team.) Additional funds may be needed for entertainment, individual purchases, etc.
  3. Learn about the community in which you will be doing service.  Is it urban or rural?  Who are the people who live in the area?  What are their needs?
  4. Learn about the lodging location.  Is it a hostel, a camp, a hotel, a bunk-house?  What services and opportunities are part of that location?
  5. Learn about the service work you will be performing on your upcoming trip.  Do you have the skills and strength required to perform the service work well?  Take the initiative to learn skills and be physically prepared for the service work you will be performing.  Arrange to do similar service work locally to practice your skills.
  6. Prepare to pack light and pack ONLY the essentials.


Recent Alternative Break Trips

In the last decade, Madison College students have worked in both rural and urban settings, serving in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, DC and West Virginia.

Students have worked with domestic and exotic animals, tutored children, made and delivered meals to shut-in citizens living with HIV/AIDS, cleaned up litter in city parks and debris on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, removed invasive species and replanted native vegetation, torn down flood-soaked homes, sanded dry-wall, and painted newly renovated houses.