by Tori Feldman
Netflix is probably the word most students would use to describe their spring breaks, but elementary education junior Maria Edelman has a different story. She used her spring break to help others.
Edelman is a part of Students Today Leaders Forever, an nonprofit engaging in servant leadership and arranging yearly cross-country trips called Pay it Forward Tours.
Edelman joined the group this fall and started volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in Fargo. She now volunteers at Gigi’s Playhouse, leading a program for infants with Down syndrome.
“I enjoy making a difference in the lives of the people around me,” she said. “I enjoy meeting new people and making their day a little better after volunteering.”
Four college students started STLF in 2004 at the University of Minnesota. The group’s mission was to “reveal leadership through service, relationships and actions.” On Pay it Forward Tours, students travel around the United States volunteering, reflecting and partaking in leadership activities.
This year, Edelman and other students started their PIF Tour in Nebraska City, traveling all the way to Dallas, Texas. Each day, they took on a different service project in a different city. In one, they raked leaves and cleaned up parks. At another, they volunteered at a zoo. Further along their route, they helped at a Humane Society and worked on houses as a part of a Habitat for Humanity project.
Edelman said she plans to be a special education teacher after graduation, but wants to keep volunteering as well.
This trip, she said, has inspired her. Edelman plans to get more involved with Habitat for Humanity and the Humane Society in Fargo-Moorhead.
Edelman said her spring break was a “life-changing” experience she’ll never forget.