FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) - For college co-eds, spring break traditionally means a time to party. But several hundred students have chosen an alternative trip: spending the week in Ferguson, with a chance to make a difference in the town that has dominated national headlines.
There will be some new faces on the Ferguson City Council this spring. But residents who want a say in who wins the election must be registered to vote by March 11. College students from across the nation arrive this weekend to help make that happen.
It’s known as an ‘alternative spring break,’ a time to put your talents to work helping others.
Quentin Savage, a 22-year-old junior from Berea College in Kentucky is in St. Louis this week helping to prepare for a voter registration drive in Ferguson.
‘'It just doesn’t look like protesting, it just doesn’t look like social media,” Savage said. ‘‘It also looks like this; hands on work where we’re actually cooking the food and where we’re actually getting in touch with people in the streets who are going to be voting.”
By Sunday, 80 students will be in town to help residents sign up to vote in the April municipal elections.
‘'The majority of the students are coming from top universities, I mean this is really the cream of the crop in terms of academic colleges and universities,” said Charles Wade, director of Operation Help or Hush, a not-for-profit. ‘‘These are also active citizens, active young citizens.”
For the next five weeks, waves of students on spring break will arrive in the St. Louis area to assist on a variety of projects.
‘'We’re asking people what they want us to do," Wade said. ''We’re not coming into their space and dictating how we can be of help. We are really while we’re out registering people ask them what would you like to see in the community, would you like some benches put in some of these places for people who are walking.'
Among the projects the volunteers intend to take on: repairing subdivision entrances damaged during protests, cleaning up public areas, and beautifying bus stops.
''We have the city's blessing. I've met with the city manager. We've met with some of the council members, I even met with the police chief," Wade said. ''I was pleasantly surprised at their willingness just to be open to the idea because I kind of assumed they were going to shut it down immediately and they said let's talk face-to-face."