EDITORIAL: Alternative Spring Breaks showcase commitment CMU students have to bettering the nation, world

Students help protect a sea turtle nest during their Alternative Summer Break in Palm Beach, Florida in August 2017.

As Spring Break draws closer, it's easy to mentally check out. 

You might have big vacation plans — going on a cruise, camping or a cross-country road trip with your friends. You might have no plans, opting to take a week-long time out for a well-deserved rest.

A number of you, 176 students to be exact, are gearing up for something more: an Alternative Spring Break.

To those of you leaving for the 15 different locations across America we say: thank you. In a world that's pretty dark right now, you're showing us charity and good faith — a reason to keep working for a better tomorrow.

Alternative breaks are a tradition students have participated in across the country. Jennifer Drevon, assistant director of the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center, said not only has Alternative Spring Breaks grown — all three (Summer, Winter and Spring) have increased in sign-ups and are projected to keep trending that way.

"For the (Mary Ellen Brandell) Volunteer Center and the institution as a whole, it's a point of pride that students choose to serve for their academic breaks," she said. "In general, it's a great way for students to get involved and learn about other Alternative Break opportunities or find out ways they can get involved locally when they return to the Mount Pleasant area." 

Being able to not just help out others across the states, but to bring that volunteerism back home is no small feat. Every helping hand counts. Every hour of charity means something to someone who otherwise would go without.

So as you're finishing packing your bags, good luck. Whether you're reorganizing pantries at a soup kitchen in New Orleans or helping to repaint a women's shelter in Vermont, you're making the world a better place.

To those of you who aren't — keep this moment in mind for next year.

The volunteer center offers Alternative Breaks three different times during the year, not to mention international Alternative Breaks and Alternative Weekends (for those who want to volunteer but aren't quite ready to make the leap across state or international borders).

It's never too late to start volunteering. 

It's never a bad time to make a difference.