GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Spring break for students at East Carolina University begins on Sunday. While many students may be hitting the sands on the beach or ski slopes on the mountains, some of those students are choosing to give back to their community instead.

It’s called “Alternative Spring Breaks” or ABEs for short.

“Alternative Break Experiences are immersive service experiences that we host during fall breaks, spring break, and then sometimes in the summer,” said Associate Director of Intercultural Affairs and Director of Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, Lauren Howard.

This year, ECU offered four ABEs.

“One to Asheville, one to Raleigh, one to Durham, and then one in the Cape Carteret area,” Howard said. “They come back with a better appreciation of service as well as learning about that specific community that they’re immersed in for three or four days. We love to hear their stories, but also how much they want to serve when they get back to ECU.”

The Cape Carteret ABC takes students to assist the North Carolina Coastal Federation, helping improve the environment and beaches.

“We actually went on the beach and shorelines. We cleaned oyster shells. We made oyster shell bags. We did lake trail cleanups,” said ECU Junior Iyaira Williams. “Just how important our oceans are, we learned a lot about how shorelines have been receding a lot because of climate change and what we can do to change that.”

Williams said she learned a lot about service.

“A lot of people think we should be in Miami, but we’re out here cleaning trails because this is the change we want to see in the world, so we are being that change,” Williams said.

Anyone can bring change, she added.

“It’s always fun when you can see the before and after,” Williams said. “When we would go to a beach and we would see all the trash and then we would pick it all up. We would look back, and you could physically see the change that you’re making on the environment and that community.”

Those interested in learning more about Alternative Break Experiences can click here for more information.