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

SARA SILBERSTEIN- Jewish National Fund Alternative Spring Break in Israel

A Great Alternative for Spring Break
By Adam S. Maslia

Silberstein (center) with two peers setting out to pick grapefruit on a Leket farm, which distributes all of its crops to those in need.

While many students spend their Spring Break playing in the sand, jumping in the water, and eating tropical fruits, Sara Silberstein spent her break digging sand, mixing it with water, and picking fruit for the needy as she worked on several landscaping, environmental, and charitable service projects in Israel.

From March 5-13, while on the Jewish National Fund's (JNF) Alternative Spring Break (ASB) in Israel, Silberstein and peers from around the nation took part in a variety of service activity aimed at bringing a renewed sense of life to Israel's southern region, as well as the Carmel Forrest, which was largely destroyed by a recent forest fire. I sat down with Silberstein and she told me all about the "best Spring Break" she's ever had.

About Sarah
Hometown: Fairfax, Va.
Major: Business and Hospitality & Tourism Management
Expected to Graduate in: May 2012
Volunteer Activities: JNF Alternative Spring Break, Jewish Student Union/ Hillel, Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority.

What do you enjoy most about community service? The feeling of helping other people and seeing how much you can accomplish when you work on a project. For example, we were able to repaint an entire low-income government apartment complex in one morning, a job that would have taken several weeks for maintenance workers to do.

What was your most memorable volunteer experience? When we picked grapefruit. They told us that the fruit we picked in 45 minutes would feed 600 families. I felt proud that I was able to help so many people just by giving a little bit of my time.

How have you personally benefitted from volunteering? I've become a better person for helping those in need. In my opinion, it's really the least I can do for a country and people that mean so much to me.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? You should definitely do it. They need your help and you can really make a difference. While it is a lot of work, it's also a lot of fun to help other those in other communities.

How would your friends and family describe you? Awesome. Just kidding. I think they would describe me as someone that cares about other people and is thoughtful and nice.

What are your plans for after you graduate? I want to travel for a little bit and then eventually settle down with a job in hospitality. I would definitely be interested in doing ASB again, since it is open to anyone who is 18-26 years old.

For more information about JNF's ASB in Israel visit their website at

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