SAU Buzz

Serving during spring break

by Claire Swift
Posted on Mar 31, 2016

While some students soaked up the sun and played on the beach, other St. Ambrose students used spring break to help others. Campus Ministry gave students the opportunity to travel to East St. Louis, Kentucky and Mississippi to help the less fortunate.  

Sophomore Karli Aktinson had never gone on a service trip, but she says she is happy she applied to go this year.

“The number one reason I wanted to go on a service trip is for the experience of doing something good for others,” Aktinson said.  “Most college kids for spring break go somewhere warm, such as a beach for a getaway vacation with their friends. However, I want to spend my break by giving my time to others who are in need of my help.”

Aktinson traveled with Father Chuck Adam and other students to join forces with four different colleges in Kentucky. They worked in some of the poorest counties in the United States. Aktinson’s crew was the “Red Crew” and worked on a house and added an addition and a ramp to help the owner access his house easier.

Aktinson said her favorite part was getting to know the people her crew was helping.

The homeowner we helped was retired from the air force, and he had worked many different jobs such as a cook, plummer, and construction worker,” Aktinson said. “He was basically doing whatever he could to make money for his family.”

The homeowner the students helped had lost his legs to a blood clot and was having trouble access his home. Atkinson says it was an eye opening experience because by doing such a simple task as hammering a nail she was making a difference.

“The smile on his face was priceless when he rode down the ramp,” Atkinson said. “This trip also made me realize how truly blessed I am. This trip will also influence me to do more volunteer work.”

Students did get some free time to explore Kentucky.

“This trip wasn't all work,” Atkinson said. “I also was able to bond and form relationships with the other students from the other colleges. It was so cool to climb up a mountain and just tell stories with the other students and get to know them.”

Junior Payton Janney also went did service on spring break, but she went to East St. Louis. Last year she says she had a blast helping at habitat for humanity so, she wanted to do another service trip.

In East St. Louis, Janney was able to interact with kids, serve food, clean and plant a garden. Janney said it was rewarding to see that her work was making a difference.

“I loved getting to tutor the kids at the school it was so awesome to see them understand different assignments,” Janney said. “ We also worked at after school programs where we played with kids and gave them a few more hours of being a kid before they had to go back into the real world.”

The soup kitchen that SAU students worked at served over 200 men, women and children. Normally, that was the only warm meal those people received that day. Students were also able to socialize with some of the families and learn about their stories.

“It was inspiring to see their smiling faces when they are facing such hardship,” Janney said.

Janney said her life has been changed after going on this trip because of how happy the children and people were despite their living situations.

“I would ask them how their day was and they would reply with I'm just so blessed,” Janney said. “Through their hardship they have turned to God and they still have such a strong faith, even the children. They were also all so appreciative for all the work we were doing and really accepted us into their lives. They were so welcoming and so gracious.”

To learn more about service trips that Campus Ministry plans, visit the chapel or email them at