Mercer County

Out of state students use spring break an excuse to serve the Appalachian community

BRAMWELL, WV (WVNS) - Two groups of students from Virginia and Philadelphia are spending their spring break volunteering in the town of Bramwell. On Wednesday, they spent their morning picking up trash alongside the Bluestone River.

Students from both Emory and Henry College in Virginia and Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia worked together to improve the quality of life for people living in Mercer County. Students like, Kristen Herrmann, said it is totally worth it. 

"This is an experience that a lot of people look forward to every year, to go to the Appalachian region and be with the community members and hear their stories, and to serve alongside them," Herrmann said.

It is part of a program called the Appalachian Experience, a spring break alternative trip that allows students to give back through service. Eden Kim is one of those students and said this is unlike anything she would do back in Philadelphia.

"Doing service around the area at my home, yes I do it for an hour and then I come back and I do school work and I forget about it. So this experience is completely different and it's very honoring," Kim said.

The WADE Center in Bluefield is hosting these students, providing a place to stay. Missions Coordinator, Charon Wood, told 59 News students contribute a lot to the area, year after year.

"They bring education, they bring hands to volunteer and so many different aspects are they able to help our community," Wood said. 

Through Appalachian Experience, students work with the Keep Mercer Clean Project. While this program is in its fifth year, volunteers like, Joshua Parks, said there is a key component that makes their mission a success. 

"Community volunteers is how this program succeeds, we have community volunteers for this program to be a success," Parks said. 

The students are here until Saturday. If anyone is interested in volunteering, the next clean-up is March 20. 

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