Spring Cleaning for Spring Break

By Rachel Martin

March 11, 2012 Updated Mar 11, 2012 at 8:38 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Student volunteers from Wisconsin stopped through Mustard Seed Furniture Bank to do some spring cleaning during their “Pay It Forward Tour.”

No trip to Mexico for these students, they’re spending their Spring Break doing something different.

“This is more funer,” said Mintshis Vang, Bus Coordinator for Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF). “And it’s great to help and support the community.”

It's all part of the "Pay It Forward Tour,” a cross country service trip. This particular trip consists of six stops through six states across the Midwest. It’s sponsored by STLF, a non-profit organization that engages in servant leadership to primarily carry out its mission through leadership, service, relationships, and action.

Carrying boxes, sorting dishes, and moving chairs, students from the University of River Falls in Wisconsin, stopped to volunteer at Mustard Seed Furniture Bank in Fort Wayne Sunday.

“These are things that, with the small staff the Mustard Seed has, we don't have the capability of doing,” said Suzie Jordan, Executive Director. “So really, our Spring Cleaning is done and we're ready for more donations.”

Vang says she found Mustard Seed online and called to see if they needed any help. Vang says on these tours, they often sleep in YMCAs or in school gyms, but their main mission is to change the lives of students and particularly the people they help.

“Why not just, like we say, pay it forward? Because once you make someone happy, that person can go and change someone else's life,” she said.

For some, volunteering is a brand new experience. Sunghun Lee is an international student from South Korea. He has never volunteered or done community service in his life.

“My parents help poor people sometimes, and I never help people, you know? So I just wanted to try and experience this volunteer stuff,” he said.

For others, it's a preference over the typical spring break. Nikky Brooks, a senior at River Falls, says one year a friend talked her into doing service instead of going on a trip to Mexico with her parents.

“I love helping people and I just like getting to know all the people on the bus and everything, and I've been doing it ever since,” Brooks said.

Brooks says she’s also led high schools community service tours. “I just love getting the high school kids into it and bringing out their leadership, and they bring it right back to their high school. They also get a love for it, so they want to continue doing it in college and make a difference.

Every year, the last stop of the “Pay It Forward Tour” is called the Celebration City. This year it's Washington D. C. where they'll meet with thousands of other volunteers.

“Once we all get there, we'll do a big project together,” said Vang. “It’s basically a surprise for us.” But, Vang predicts they’ll be cleaning a dam or doing something for the environment.

So far, the 45 student volunteers have done about 300 hours of community service. They anticipate doing about 700 more before they end up in Washington D.C.

To know more about STLF and Mustard Seed, click on those titles under News Links on our homepage.

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