By Briana Williams–

The stereotypical spring break for college students involves going to a tropical place and partying until you forget what your middle name is. It’s almost become a tradition. But spring break doesn’t have to be a week spent drinking. It can be a life-changing experience where you can give back to a community that really needs it.

Louisville offers many opportunities to give back to the local community. One that’s always popular is attending shelters and kitchens to give food and service local homeless people. Wayside Christian Mission, Louisville Rescue Mission and St. John Center for Men are just a few shelters close to campus that always accept volunteers to support their causes.

Cooking, serving food and speaking to the families at these centers are some of the ways volunteers can help.

Another way to give back is serving at animal shelters. Animal shelters like the Louisville Metro Animal Services, Kentucky Humane Society and Animal House Adoption Center let the community in to pet and play with animals. Some shelters also let volunteers help bathing and feeding hurt or abused animals. While most animal shelters have only a limited number of volunteer spots available, contacting them early enough could help you gain a spot.

There are many community centers around the city that need volunteers for hanging out with local youth after school. The Americana Community Center and the Louisville Central Community Center offer volunteer opportunities for anyone and you can choose how long you’d like to help. The Louisville Central Community Center holds prominent events every month that frequently seek out college students’ help in particular.

Louisville often holds community initiatives for environmental friendliness. Louisville Grows is a nonprofit organization that plants trees and works to beautify the city. Trees Louisville completes similar projects that work to bring environmental awareness to the community. Both groups seek out volunteers and you can also apply to be a part of a team long term.

Partying can be a fun way to spend the break, but volunteering to various nonprofits is an alternative way to spend that week off. For students who need to have a required number of volunteer hours, spring break is the perfect way to do this. Not only will it boost your resume, you may end up making a big impact to the community.