Skip Cancun, try these spring break alternatives!

<i>Cross-Cultural Solutions in Ghana</i>

March may be known as a time to get away for Spring Break, but escaping to a warm climate doesn't have to involve Cancun or even college kids, for that matter. Trade in your swimsuit for a tool belt this year and consider lending a hand in communities that need your help.

Since organizations like the American Red Cross are not yet accepting volunteers to travel to Haiti, offer up your services in one of these ways:

The logistics: Location: Biloxi, Miss., Date: March 28 – April 3
The cause: Many families are still displaced more than four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. A program by the United Way of South Mississippi, sponsored by Deloitte, is helping to remedy this problem while also addressing basic community needs that existed before the storm ever hit.
What they need: Volunteers age 18-24 are needed to help rebuild homes, conduct community assessment surveys and contribute to educational programs for children.
Cost: For a $150 program fee, all meals, lodging and local transportation are included. Transportation to Biloxi is not.
Web site:

The logistics: Location: Jerusalem and the Negev Desert, Israel, Date: Various weeks in March
The cause: About 250 young Jewish adults volunteer through the Jewish National Fund’s Alternative Spring Break program each year to visit Israel's developing communities.
What they need: Young jews, between the ages of 18-30, volunteer to plant trees and work on neighborhood beautification programs. Participants are required to fundraise for JNF’s Blueprint Negev campaign to develop the Negev Desert. Admission is rolling.
Cost: Once a fundraising minimum of $975 is met, the program is free. Round-trip airfare from the New York City area is included.
Web site:

The logistics: Location: Cartago, Costa Rica, Date: Weekly yearround
The cause: Cross-Cultural Solutions’ Insight Abroad program provides education and social services to those in need worldwide.
What they need: Eighteen-year-olds to senior citizens provide childcare to families that can’t afford it, teach English or work with physically disabled adults. Cross-Cultural Solutions also offers weeklong and longer-term opportunities in India, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Cost: $1,853 program fee, which includes meals, in-country transportation and medical insurance.
Web site:

The logistics: Location: Nationwide, Date: Various yearround
The cause: World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA (WWOOF-USA) is part of a global effort to link volunteers with organic farmers and build a community conscious of ecological farming practices.
What they need: Ages 18 and up can help grow vegetables, keep bees, build straw bale houses or work with animals. Each farm offers a different experience and length of stay – from several days to months at a time. International opportunities are also available.
Cost: A $20 annual membership provides access to its farm database. In exchange for volunteering, farmers provide WWOOFers with meals, accommodation and farming education.
Web site:

Only have a day to help?
Disney Parks’ new “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program wants your help in U.S. communities nationwide. A day of service in 2010 with one of its participating volunteer organizations will get you a free, one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. Ages 6+ welcome.
Web site:


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