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United Way offers Alternative Spring Break in the Borderland

By: Stephanie Guadian
EL PASO, Texas - Beaches, bikinis, beer and brawls are perhaps the most common denominators when it comes to college students and spring break. But there are exceptions. Jackson Newbury goes to school in Georgia and has decided to spend his week off volunteering in El Paso.

"I don't know this year, I just felt like doing something actually productive with it. I don't know, I just like giving back a little bit," said Jackson Newbury.

Newbury is among 22 students, from all over the country, taking part in United Way's Alternative Spring Break program.

The students have traded in drinking games for a real world experience. They are in El Paso to help build homes for low income families. The people who will one day live in the homes -- are working side by side with the spring breakers.

The United Ways Rebecca Vorel is in charge of the group. Each student paid $250 dollars to take part in the program.

"We really think that these kids coming here to El Paso get a lot of meaning out of their week. And they learn so much and have a lot of fun doing it," said Vorel.

The students come from as far away as New Hampshire, New York and Minnesota. Nadira Mohamed is a student in Saint Paul, Minn. Her alternative spring break was a chance to pay it forward.

"I like helping. Because, I have a house too that is Habitat for Humanity. And they built that house for us too. So, I feel like it is a way of giving back as well," said Mohamed.

But, it's not all work. The students will get a chance to enjoy Chamizal National Park, take a hike in the Franklin Mountains and enjoy the Borderland's Mexican food trucks.

"Definitely, I will take a bit of Texas back home with me when I go back to Minnesota," said Mohamed.

While in El Paso, the students will also volunteer at a crisis center and various shelters. While they make memories that may last a life time -- others may not remember their spring break at all.