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November 15, 2001 - GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, (November 15, 2001) - Aquinas College students performed 1400 hours worth of service during fall break from October 21 to October 27. Every year Aquinas students volunteer for different service-learning projects. This year Aquinas scheduled three trips, which included Wilderness State Park in Michigan, Urban Plunge in Brooklyn, NY, and Nazareth Farms in West Virginia.

The Wilderness State Park trip to Carp Lake at the northern tip of lower Michigan included 15 volunteers who worked approximately 600 hours of service. While at the park, students worked on landscaping, winterizing buildings, and several beautification projects.

A group of 13 volunteered in Brooklyn, New York, at the Urban Plunge. The volunteers logged nearly 520 hours of work. Their service included working in a soup kitchen at St. John the Baptist Church, assisting with mobile food units, helping in a thrift shop, working with students at local elementary schools, and helping with an adult literacy program. This trip also included a visit to Ground Zero, where volunteers viewed the effects of the September 11 attack.

A third group of 7 people traveled to Nazareth Farm in West Virginia where they performed 280 hours worth of service. When asked about the experience at Nazareth Farms, senior Danielle Chisholm said, "the community of Nazareth Farm is a place where lives are changed and miracles happen everyday in big and small ways. I'm grateful to have been able to serve with these people of Appalachia and experience their community."

While at Nazareth Farms, Aquinas students joined a group from the University of Notre Dame to perform home repairs and other projects to assist impoverished people in West Virginia. The tasks ranged from painting and roofing to stairway construction and fascia replacement. The trip gave students the chance to experience the four cornerstones of the Nazareth Farms -- simplicity, community, prayer and service.

Eric Bridge, the service learning coordinator, characterized the importance of the program, "service learning allows students to utilize their skills and abilities to make a difference in the world. Students are encouraged to contribute both in college and after they graduate. Students serve to learn and learn to serve."