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APSU students volunteer in Chattanooga through Alternative Break program

Volunteers with Austin Peay State University create paper mache heads in support of an event at the Hart Gallery in Chattanooga, Tennesse as part of their Alternative Break trip.

A group of students and staff members from Austin Peay State University traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee over spring break to volunteer with multiple nonprofits as part of the University’s Alternative Break program.

During the weeklong trip, the group assisted service organizations such as the Hart Gallery and Habitat for Humanity in addition to exploring the city’s sights.

The Hart Gallery sells arts, crafts, and gifts created by artists within underserved populations, such as those experiencing homelessness, people with mental and physical disabilities, disabled veterans and women fleeing abusive situations.

Volunteers focused on the gallery’s community gardens, where they pulled weeds and added fresh soil. The group also had the opportunity to make paper maché heads for one of the gallery's upcoming events.

Habitat for Humanity of Chattanooga partners with corporations, churches, civic groups and individuals in the Chattanooga community to help them build or improve a place they can call home. The group volunteered by helping customers at the Habitat ReStore, stocking new donated items and recycling old furniture.

“The trip has been enriching for me because I was able to make a difference to someone,” said Katarie Herman, Austin Peay graduate student. “Being at the Hart Gallery, we helped to cultivate a community garden that provides for the local community that would otherwise go without. Working with Habitat for Humanity has its own rewards. I am 100% grateful for the experience and would do it again without question.”

Austin Peay State University’s alternative break trips and other volunteer-based programs are hosted through the department of Community Engagement & Sustainability. Trips are designed to engage students in meaningful and collaborative community service in an effort to increase awareness of social and environmental issues and strengthen the communities in which they serve, as well as foster a strong sense of community among trip participants and the University as a whole.