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Get your hands dirty while helping

There are many options for students looking for alternatives to temp jobs. The most visible of these are the Peace Corps and Americorps.

Americorp, a program that got its start in 1993, operates under the Corporation for National and Community Service, which also oversees the Senior Corps and Learn America programs. Over 50,000 people participate in Americorps projects each year, serving over two million citizens.

Projects focus on a wide variety of issues, meeting needs in education, public safety, health and the environment. Among other things, volunteers tutor and mentor youth, build affordable housing, teach computer skills, clean parks and run after-school programs.

America is more than a summer commitment; members serve a 10-12 month period in full or part-time service. Full-time members receive an education award of $4,725 to pay for college, graduate school or to pay back student loans. Benefits include health insurance, training, and student loan deferment. About half of all members receive a living allowance of about $9,000 dollars, while those serving part time receive a partial education reward.

Locally, student Americorps volunteers are needed to assist in environmental education through the Northwest Service Academy, provide in-place paint management and measure lead levels in lower-income homes through the Multnomah County Health Department, tutor and mentor children and families in need through the I Have a Dream Foundation, and train and assist farm workers in dealing with pesticides through the Oregon Human Development Corporation. There are many other opportunities as well.

The best way to apply for Americorps programs is through their Web site,

The Peace Corps got its start in 1961, and has served citizens of over 130 countries. Peace Corps workers teach English as a foreign language (the largest program), work with women’s and youth groups, assist in community development, and work on HIV/AIDS education, among other things.

Among the benefits provided to Peace Corps worker are a 15 percent cancellation of the outstanding balance on Perkins Loans for each year of service, comprehensive medical and dental coverage, $6,075 after the completion of two years of volunteer service and transportation to and from the country served.

Forty colleges and universities also allow participants to incorporate Peace Corps service into master’s degree programs through the Master’s International Program, and volunteers who have returned home can also receive reduced tuition in advanced degree programs at more than 25 participating institutions through the Fellows/USA program.

Peace Corps service takes place all over the world, benefiting people in need in Africa

Europe, the Mediterranean region, Asia, the Pacific region and the Americas.

The easiest way to find information on the Peace Corps is by looking at the Web site,

The Peace Corps and Americorps are two programs that are working to make the world more livable, both next door and overseas, and The benefits provided will assist any college student in many ways. So if the idea of an office job brings on yawns, consider these options.