While most students were finding ways to avoid doing anything that would resemble work over spring break, three soccer players from Middle Tennessee State University were using their time to help others.
Jessica Gilchrist and Whitney Jorgenson on the beach with kids in Haiti. These Blue Raiders chose to spend their their spring breaks volunteering for others.
Allison Stallard, Jessica Gilchrist and Whitney Jorgenson chose to spend their spring break in Haiti, assisting victims of 2010's tragic earthquake.
"We had talked about doing something different this year," Jorgenson said. "I came across Salisbury Presbyterian Church in Virginia and saw where they were going to take a group of college kids on a spring trip to Haiti."
Jorgenson contacted the trips director about their interest. It turns out the group did not have enough people signed up, but with the three Raiders on board things worked out.
The three players paid for the trip themselves, including a round trip flight, boarding and payment for breakfast and lunch, a Haitian dinner was provided for dinner.
On March 3 they drove to Virginia, checked into a hotel at 11:30 P.M. and met the group they would be going to Haiti with for the first time just four hours later.
What the players noticed when they arrived in Port-au-Prince was the devastation. A three story palace crumbled so it now stood only one, a city full of tents where people were living and trash-filled streets.
"We landed in Port-au-Prince and it was a two-hour ride to the compound, which was in Léogâne," Stallard said.
One of the things the girls did on their trip was to distribute de-worming pills to school children.
"Between the water they would drink and the food, and walking around barefooted, it was a problem," Gilchrist said. "We gave all the kids a de-worming pill, and we gave them pudding as a reward because those pills were not the easiest things to take."
One of the things that surprised the players most about their trip to Haiti was the beauty of the Haitian landscape.
"As we were driving to Léogâne, I noticed how pretty Haiti is," Gilchrist said. "It's like a jungle forest with mountains. When we were swimming, we'd turn around and look at the mountains and the forest. It is just gorgeous."
The girls found a way to take soccer with them on their trip.
"We mentioned it to our leader, Debbie, and she said the kids loved soccer," Stallard said. "We had a cheap ball and took it outside, and the kids just swarmed us. She found us a field where we could play, and every afternoon after that we played."
The girls would be very interested in returning to Haiti, one project in particular caught their interest.
"There is a 23-year-old girl down there who has started a project called GOALS," Jorgenson said. "To get kids to come in, they have them coached and play soccer, but it's really to provide a nutritious meal."
"They teach them basic survival skills like cooking and gardening but they use soccer to attract them," Gilchrist said. "Soccer is the reward they get."
"She was living in a tent at that point," Stallard said. "She'd been down there for eight months and plans to be there for three years. I really want to work with her."