While some college students spent their spring break relaxing at the beach, ten students from Niagara University in Buffalo, New York reached out to help people in need in Pittsburgh. The group was part of the March 5 alternative break experience offered by the Change A Heart Franciscan Volunteer program, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

Since 2007, more than 200 college students have put their faith into action through this week long service learning experience. Offered during winter, spring and fall breaks, students receive room and board from the Sisters of St. Francis at their Mount Alvernia campus in Millvale, while volunteering at agencies and programs that serve disadvantaged men, women and children.

In addition to serving others, the group participated in daily Mass and prayer and personally connected with one another, sharing in the love of Christ. “This week has really opened my heart to those in need,” said a former participant. “It has truly been a life changing week.”

Change A Heart is a year-long volunteer program giving young adults an opportunity to serve directly with people in need throughout western Pennsylvania. A sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis, members live Gospel values of justice, peacemaking, hospitality, simplicity and community. For more information visit changeaheartvolunteers.org