Gracie Campbell — Staff writer
Spring break is full of plans. From family and friends to trips and commitments, students are loaded with activities. Though many travel home over break or take trips with friends, some will choose to dedicate their spring break to service. That is what PLIA is all about.
PLIA stands for “Putting Love Into Action.” Every spring break, around 100 students embark to places around the Midwest, South, and Southwest United States. As soon as spring break officially begins on March 6, groups of eight to 10 students with two leaders pile into vans and head off.
The groups engage in service activities and outreach in these communities, returning to Dordt University on March 14. Some work alongside churches and summer camps, putting in hours of physical labor together. Many of the trips visit cities where they experience firsthand the difficulties of poverty.
Keely Kolbrek, a sophomore engineering student, went on a trip to Mendenhall, Mississippi last year. Mendenhall is currently trapped in a cycle of poverty and the team engaged in community outreach.
“The leader of the ministry shar[ed] his personal story with us…how he came to know Jesus and how he wanted to serve his community and just bring hope to a community that’s stuck in a hard cycle,” Kolbrek said.
Kolbrek also appreciated the time spent in community with one another as the group was able to cook in their lodging.
“I think it’s meaningful to get to serve a community that you’re with,” Kolbrek said. “Also it’s an opportunity to just grow and learn.”
Even freshman are looking forward to the trip and opportunities they give. Beatrice Shackelford, freshman environmental science major, plans on going.
“It [is] a really great opportunity and something that I want to be involved in,” Shackelford said. “[It’s] kind of what I want to do for my future…ministry and intercity. So, it [is] a good way to get my foot in the door and try some stuff out.”
Shackelford was planning to stay on campus anyway, and saw PLIA as a good opportunity.
For Emma Philips, a freshman chemistry major, it was more about the reputation.
“A bunch of people told me this was their best week of Dordt,” Philips said. She knew she would be doing more through this trip than at home.
Both freshmen are looking forward to meeting new people and building relationships with the communities they serve.
There are 12 trips in total with 24 leaders heading out. The 12 teams will travel to Georgia, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Missouri.
Along with the work done during each trip, the teams will also enjoy time together on the road and spend one free day filled with fun activities. Many of the teams will enjoy the spring weather outside. One trip destination in Arizona is less than an hour from Zion National Park and the Kentucky trip in Appalachia is primed for hiking.
Going on a PLIA trip costs $105, and students will send out ten support letters to take care of the extra cost. Students are also encouraged to bring their own spending money for extra food.
To apply, visit u.dordt.edu and type “PLIA” into the search bar. From there, the digital application allows you to pick your preferred destination, which the officers do their best to adhere to. A PowerPoint with more details on each trip can also be found there, as well as the support letter document.
The deadline is approaching as applications are due Friday, February 17.
Photo credit: Celeste Vandermeer