Students Travel to Canton, MS, for Spring Break Service Trip


Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

  • my Canton, Mississippi, is one of the highest poverty areas in the US and for the past 20 years students from Notre Dame Academy have been sacrificing their spring breaks to try and make a difference for the citizens of the city.

NDA pairs up with the service group MadCAAP (Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty) to keep this service tradition going strong.

This year, six junior girls, five junior boys, seven senior girls and two senior boys will be traveling to Mississippi on Saturday.. The cost of the trip is $400 per student but students can sell “Canton Stock” and potentially pay off the entire trip if they sell 40 shares.

The service team includes Bailie Anders, Ashlyn Arett, Emily Conard, Tori Gantz, Emily Seidl, Lauren Welker, Katie Gapinski, Cali Gurnicki, Madeline Kaye, Emily Lelinski, Eleanor Sladek, Claire Weydt, Christin Roskos, Jack Allen, Paul Gapinski, Jacob Larsen, David Letter, Charlie Lemkuil, Collin Clark and Jack Colleran.

The trip is one week long and the drive takes two days. The students travel in vans and stay one night in Illinois before reaching Canton. In Canton they stay at the First Baptist Church Youth and Family Center without cost.

The labor required includes maintaining low-income housing by replacing windows, dry walling and flooring. Students work to build ramps for low-income families that have special needs.

In addition, gardens are established so the families can have fresh fruit and vegetables available to them.

“For the students, the most important part is that it empowers them and inspires them to help those less fortunate,” said Campus Minister Daniel Kriegl, who has kept the trip going since he became involved with the Academy and urges students to look into it.

“For the people there, it helps them to see the young people who have sacrificed their time and energy to help them out. We truly feel the love that we bring.”

Heather Ruby, a senior who participated in the trip last year shared her experience: “It really opened my eyes to how we need to live in solidarity with those around us who are in need. She experienced a bonding with her fellow classmates as well as the older students and people they worked with and is confident the trip helped cement important relationships in her life.”

She concluded, “It was a great experience all around, and the spiritual and personal benefits make it very worthwhile.”

Kriegl is a strong believer in the success of this trip and believes it has benefits that last far beyond the end of spring break.

“You get to grow in both faith and service with your closest friends in a charming southern town and you will meet interesting and wonderful people that will warm your heart. It’s truly a life changing experience,” he said.