FULTON, Mo. – The stereotype of college students using their free time for drinking and getting into mischief may soon be shattered. It appears that today’s college students, the millennials, value service more than a weekend party.

A 2010 Pew Research Center study asked millennials about their priorities. Being a good parent, having a good marriage and helping others in need made the top of their list.

“These students want to give, they want to help out, they want to be part of the community,” said Joy Millard, interim assistant vice provost for University of Missouri Extension.

As part of the its centennial, MU Extension partnered with Mizzou Alternative Breaks, a group of students who donate weekends, holidays and spring break to go into a community to serve a need. MAB has no shortage of student volunteers.

“We had more than enough students to fill all the trips. We had to turn people away,” said Stephen Smith, a senior at MU and director of MAB’s weekend services. “It’s an honor to go on an Alternative Break trip and we’re really proud of that.”

For one weekend in November, the students went to work at Kingdom Projects, a nonprofit organization in Fulton that employs disabled adults.

“We repainted and reorganized the resale shop. We also sorted donated clothes into men, women and children’s clothing,” said Emily Hampton, site leader and an MU sophomore.

For these young men and women, their reasons are more than altruistic. They see the experience as very valuable.

“I’ve lived in the same small town my whole life. So going to different places and seeing that not everyone does life the way I do life is life-changing. It broadens your perspective,” Hampton said.

The partnership between MAB and MU Extension benefits both organizations, says Millard.

“What I love about this is it’s bringing students into communities, and the communities also give back to the students. It’s this wonderful circle of life,” she said. “It’s what we were created for, making people better, helping them out and making lives better.”

MAB makes use of MU Extension’s community connections to find the greatest need in Missouri counties. “MU Extension is our eyes and ears in the community,” Smith said. “Before the partnership, site leaders had to call random organizations to try to find projects.”

MAB’s goal is to do a project in every Missouri county over the next five years. “Here are students who say they want to come help. In a time of limited resources, this is an amazing gift,” Millard said.

Walking through the Kingdom Project warehouse, you see students working hard, sharing laughter and giving with demonstrated joy. “The joy that comes from being here is better than any social event that I could be going to this weekend. It’s worth every minute,” Hampton said.

Learn more about Mizzou Alternative Breaks at http://breaks.missouri.edu.

The Pew Research Center report “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change” is available at http://pewrsr.ch/wupC9w.

Read more http://extension.missouri.edu/news/DisplayStory.aspx?N=2392


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