As many head out for spring break for a vacation, some spend their time volunteering and helping those in need.
For the past 36 years, the Beach Reach program in South Padre Island has gathered volunteers to serve spring breakers.
Director of the Beach Reach Program BUDDY YOUNG says, “The kids love it. It is students helping students and that’s the best thing. Because they know how to talk to them, they know how to relate to them.”
Each year students and volunteers get together with vans, food, drinks and rides to provide those falling in rough times.
Such was the case of one former spring breaker who is now a volunteer.
Volunteer Jeremy Valladares says, “one of the nights I was walking back from Whataburger, at like four in the morning a beach reach van picked me up and that is what started the change in my life. I ended up quitting college at UTPA, I ended up going to seminary and now I’m a pastor at a church in McAllen.”
This year the organization says it has close to a hundred vans. Each van sees approximately 2,000 people per spring break. Multiply that by a hundred and that’s a lot of people in need.
Spring Breaker Raymond Sands thinks, “they’re doing a good service to the community right now, especially all the people that are drunk drivers and need rides home.”
Those served say they appreciate the service, but they wish they did not include religious messages.
Sands says the religious undertone “comes out of nowhere. I kind of just don’t understand it. Why would you take time of the day to go yell at a bunch of teenagers that are not going to listen.”
Director Young states, “whether they believe in Jesus or not, that doesn’t matter. They are people and we want them to be safe. And so we provide the free rides for them, because if it was us, we hope that somebody would do that for us.”
This year the program has about 900 volunteers, one of their largest turnouts on record.