Howard University Radio, WHUR 96.3 FM, hosted a 12-hour radiothon, "Helping Hands," from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, in an effort to raise $50,000 to send more than 300 Howard University students to Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, across Washington D.C., and to Haiti where they will help families wrestling with issues ranging from illiteracy to gun violence. This is the largest number of locations served in the program's 19-year history.
The effort is part of the University's award-winning Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program led by Executive Director Dr. Paula Whetsel-Ribeau. Since 2009, ASB has expanded to incorporate multiple cities. This year, volunteers will serve communities in eight locations and will provide more than 12,000 hours of service. Each year, hundreds of Howard students skip the beach to help those in need during their weeklong break from classes.
"There is no doubt in my mind that these are the students that are going to change the world. Because of their courage and love, the fight in the communities they serve becomes their fight. By bringing these community issues to the forefront of our daily lives, collectively we can change our entire nation by what we are doing at Howard University," said Whetsel-Ribeau. "Our intent is to develop relationships and projects that live beyond our week of service, which transform educational relationships between K-12 institutions and colleges and universities."
This year, students will return to help displaced families in New Orleans, victims of gun violence in Chicago, illiteracy in Detroit and support educational initiatives in Atlanta and Washington. For 2013, the program is expanding to include two more cities, Baltimore and Memphis.
"The most unique aspect of ASB 2013 is the addition of our new sites, Memphis and Baltimore. If we could accomplish anything, we hope to bring about a new generation of student leaders who are passionate about serving communities in need with humility, compassion, and dedication," said Greta Foster, ASB Student Coordinator.
In Baltimore, students will be working to combat the effects of gang violence. In Memphis, they will address public heath and education.
In Haiti, the volunteers will conduct dental hygiene screenings, lead sexual health education sessions and teach adults read and write in English.
Volunteers include undergraduates, Howard University School of Law students, other graduate students and faculty and staff. All donations to this year's ASB will help to further the University's legacy of leadership and service to our nation.
In the past, Howard University students tutored elementary school students in English and math, helped rebuild in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and helped establish a library for a public high school in Washington, D.C. ASB is coordinated through the Office of the Dean of the Chapel with significant institutional support from the Office of the President coupled with the help of generous donations from Howard alumni, students, staff, faculty and residents from Washington, Maryland and Virginia.