The Cougar Volunteer Spirit is Alive and Well in Charleston

This blog is a project by public relations students at the College of Charleston. Since its inception in 2004, the Cougar Volunteer Spirit has showcased dozens of students who give of their time, effort and hearts to helping those in need. They don't do it for recognition like this, but their stories need to be shared because of their admirable qualities of character and caring. "Be the change you want to see in the world," Mahatma Ghandi said. That's the Cougar Volunteer Spirit that roars through these pages. Click on the side photos to see the articles. See photos of the students who wrote the pieces at the end. Thanks!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Emily Kellert-Hillel's City Year Alternative Spring Break

The Best Kind of Vacation
By Alena Kranzberg

Emily Kellert and a fellow volunteer spend time with students at a school in Miami.

Most college students who go to Miami for spring break spend their time going to the beach, dancing and partying. Emily Kellert isn’t like most students. When she went to Miami for Spring Break in 2010, she spent the week helping underprivileged students with their schoolwork and fixing up schools and playgrounds.

Emily has been involved in community service for a long time. For her Bat Mizvah she asked her guests to bring children’s books in order to be admitted into the party, which she donated to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. She also served food at a homeless shelter.

When Emily entered the College of Charleston in 2008, she continued her volunteer work by joining the Jewish Student Union’s Social Action Committee. Through the JSU, she learned about Hillel’s City Year Alternative Spring Break, and knew that spending her sophomore year spring break helping those in need was definitely something she wanted to do.


Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.

Major: Hospitality and Tourism, Business

Graduation: May 2012

Volunteer activities: I do various activities with the College of Charleston Jewish Student Union’s Social Action Committee, like volunteering at Crisis Ministries and the Carolina Youth Development Center.

I also did Hillel and City Year’s Alternative Spring Break in Miami in March 2010. We went to Boys and Girls Clubs and schools in low-income parts of Miami and played with the kids and helped them with their homework. We also painted schools to make them look nicer and more colorful, and we built benches and a stage and a playground.

What do you enjoy most about community service? The end result. Seeing who I’m giving to and seeing how happy it makes them. These kids in Miami would be so happy to see us and play with us because they don’t have that kind of closeness at home.

What is your most memorable volunteer experience? The whole Alternative Spring Break. We were just doing good things for these kids that really deserved it.

What are you most proud of contributing to your organizations? Dedicating a week to service, knowing its going to be hard work, but that I’m going be giving back for a whole week.

How have you personally benefited from volunteering? It makes me feel good, and it makes me want to keep doing it.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? Do it. Why not?

How do you think your friends and family would describe you? Outgoing, personable, caring, passionate, and funny.

What are your plans for after graduation? Find a career in the business field, and then maybe go to graduate school. And of course keep up my volunteer work.

To learn more about Hillel’s City Year Alternative Spring Break, please visit and search for Alternative Spring Break.

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