In West Michigan, Spring Break can mean helping others

Hundreds of high school and college students from West Michigan are heading out for Spring Break with more than just a good time in mind.

March 30, 2011

While the Florida weather service is predicting coastal conditions of 80 degrees and sunny this coming weekend, hundreds of high school and college students from West Michigan are heading out for Spring Break with more than just a good time in mind. Nearly 600 volunteers will give up a beach vacation to help people in need in dozens of communities across the U.S. through the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s “Give ‘em a Break” service program.

“CRWRC Disaster Response Services has 28 groups going on work trips this spring,” says DRS program manager Art Opperwall. “They’ll help disaster survivors who have exhausted their options for assistance do clean up, demolition, and repair or reconstruction on their homes. The work makes a huge difference in the lives of disaster survivors—and it has a dramatic impact on the volunteers themselves. It makes Spring Break meaningful.”

Opperwall says that while there are many new groups—families, colleges, churches, and interdenominational groups—serving through CRWRC this spring, most will return to serve again in coming years. In Grand Rapids, Mich., Calvin College sent spring break service groups through CRWRC for the fourth year in a row. Seventeen Calvin students returned from a week of reconstruction work in Biloxi, Mississippi, last Saturday.

More groups will leave the West Michigan area this coming weekend, April 1-3, including those with as many as 65 participants from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Holland, and several outlying communities. Their destinations include Tennessee, Kentucky, New Orleans, Florida, and Iowa. The disaster survivors they assist have lived through floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes and are struggling to recover.

“Although the first full week of April is the biggest Spring Break week for West Michigan high schools, Spring Break service trips can extend from early March through late April,” Opperwall says. Most colleges observed Spring Break in March this year, and some Canadian schools don’t break until mid-April, he adds.


Members of the press interested in interviews with CRWRC-DRS program manager Art Opperwall, call cell 616-915-9303.

To interview West Michigan area groups participating in CRWRC’s Give ‘em a Break service trips during the week of April 1-9, call CRWRC media contact, Beth De Graff, at 616-648-7821 for contact information.

For more information about CRWRC-DRS, go to Financial donations to CRWRC-DRS can be given online at or by calling 1-800-55-CRWRC.

CRWRC-DRS coordinates service groups for Spring Break and throughout the year. Those interested in applying can do so at, by email to [email protected], or by calling 1-800-848-5818. CRWRC has opportunities for groups, and for volunteers in rapid response, needs assessment, and reconstruction work in coordination with other disaster relief and recovery organizations.

CRWRC is a faith-based, non-government organization specializing in disaster response, community development, and justice education since 1962. CRWRC interventions touched the lives of more than 1.5 million people living in extreme poverty and disaster situations in communities around the world in 2010. All donations are tax deductible. CRWRC is a member of the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Give with confidence.

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Beth DeGraff

CRWRC Media and Justice Contact

2850 Kalamazoo Avenue SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49560-0600


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