Spring Break Service Team Heads to Canton, Mississippi

Owen Martzke, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

On Saturday, March 9, a group of 19 students and four chaperones will make the journey to Canton, Mississippi, for the annual spring break service trip.

For over 20 years the school has sponsored service work in this extremely impoverished community.

The trip will be from Saturday, March 9, until Friday, March 15.

Students on the trip include five seniors and 14 juniors. The seniors are Alana Borman, Claire Edgar, Audrey Sladek, Olivia Vanden Elzen and Owen Martzke.

Junior participants include Grant Allen, Will Urick, Charles Peterson, Catherina Baeten, Jordan Bellmund, Jacqueline Brady, Emily Cribben, Sydney Ditscheit, Elizabeth Hoeppner, Jadyn Kulesa, Emily Landwehr, Ashley Lemens, Courtney Romes and Lydia Sladek.

The students will be accompanied by Campus Minister Daniel Kriegl, Ms. Kristin Romes, Mr.  David Sladek and Mr. Marty Metzler.

For Martzke and Vanden Elzen the trip is a repeat visit to Canton, and both are happy to go back, calling their previous experience a highlight of their high school days.

These students will leave Notre Dame at noon on Saturday and drive five hours to Champaign, Illinois. There they will stay at a Super 8 motel and spend the night exploring the local stores. On Sunday the group will drive another eight hours to Canton.

The NDA team will work with the Maadcap organization, a local organization that helps the impoverished community in Canton. It is run by John and Karen who have been working with the NDA service group for many years.

Starting Monday, the work begins. The night before the students anonymously choose which job they would like to work for the day. This allows the focus to be centered around service and not always being with friends.

They can work at the Maadcap center with kids who participate in their spring break youth program. Another choice is to work in the community garden and help prepare it for the planting season. Last, they can work to build houses for those in need. The variety of activities benefits the community in many ways and teaches the students life skills in areas they may not have known before.

After working all day Monday through Wednesday, the group gets the opportunity to cool down and enjoy all that Canton has to offer. In the evening they discuss the “highs and lows” of each day which allows them to share experiences and connect with each other and those they met during the day.

Another important aspect of the trip is morning mass that is available at the local chapel.

“It helps start the day off with the right perspective. Mass brings us closer to God and puts us in the right mindset for the day to do service. It helps the students focus on the work and people for the day instead of other distractions,” said Kriegl.

“The trip is amazing. My favorite aspect is the community we build down there. It is so important to make these connections with amazing people, and I will never forget the relationships we have built with John and Karen,” added the campus minister.