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KNOXVILLE — Approximately 75 students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will head out tomorrow for the annual Alternative Fall Break, an opportunity for students to give up their two class-free days and serve others in a different community.

Students will gather at 6:15 a.m. on Thursday in staff parking lot 25, located on Andy Holt Avenue, across from the Alan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. Vans will depart at 7 a.m. and will take three groups of 25 students to their Alternative Fall Break locations: Winston-Salem, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; and the Tennessee side of the Cherokee National Forest in Unicoi and Carter counties. The students will return at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

In the past UT’s Alternative Fall Break has chosen two destinations for students. This is the first year the program has expanded to three. The destinations are chosen by a small group of student leaders after all participants have applied and been interviewed. The destinations are not revealed until after all students have been placed in their groups — usually less than a week before the trip departs. Each team is led by a small group of student leaders, graduate assistants and one full-time UT staff or faculty member.

“I think that the entire University of Tennessee community should take pride in the fact that so many students will be sacrificing their time off during fall break to serve those less fortunate in three separate cities in the Southeast,” said Michael McGreevey, a graduate assistant with the Team VOLS Volunteer Center, the main organization supporting the trips. “The students who answer the call to serve are rewarded with new friendships, unique experiences and a better understanding of the issues that face other Americans. These trips epitomize what it means to be a true Tennessee Volunteer and we cannot thank the university’s leadership enough for their support of the Alternative Break Program.”

Students’ duties vary by location. In Winston-Salem, students will work to clean up and paint the Old Salem Museum and Gardens, tutor and mentor at-risk youth, clean up roads and rivers in Stokes County, interact with patients at a long-term care facility and stock shelves at the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Students will work with elderly patients at the Active Day medical adult day care center in Louisville, clean a YMCA Safe Place and spend time with the shelter’s teens and help to stock the Dare to Care Food Bank. Students also will spend time working with the Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services’ Winter Clothing Give, which provides clothes to refugee clients from countries around the world.

In the Cherokee National Forest, students will perform upkeep on the Appalachian Trail through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoe Club. Students also will help with lawn work and landscaping, bathe animals at the Unicoi County Animal Shelter, and assist in building a new Boys & Girls Club in Elizabethton, Tenn.

UT’s Student Orientation and Leadership Development office and Team VOLS have sponsored Alternative Fall Break and Alternative Spring Break trips for more than 15 years. Other alternative break locations have included Birmingham, Ala.; New Orleans; Charleston, W.Va.; and Uniontown, Pa.

Applications for the Alternative Fall Break trips are due the first day of classes each fall, and a wait list is common. Applications for the 2010 Alternative Spring Break trip will be available on Monday, Oct. 19, and will be due at the start of the spring semester.

C O N T A C T :

Rebekah Winkler, (865-974-8304,