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Students plan to help others on spring break

DULUTH -- Carolyn Grindon, a sophomore at an Ohio college, wanted to do something more rewarding on her spring break than going to Florida.

When she was invited to participate in the United Way Alternative Spring Break, she decided to go.

"I thought it was something great I could do on my spring break," said Grindon, who attends Case Western Reserve University.

Eight college students from throughout the nation participating in Alternative Spring Break spent the week at Radloff Middle School, teaching students lessons in personal finance and economics and helping with manual projects such as organizing the robotics team's closet and preparing materials for the school's upcoming science night.

"I feel like I really am making a difference," said Josh Tarnow, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh.

The United Way Alternative Spring Break is sponsored by Deloitte, a major international accounting and consulting firm. This year, six projects focused on education are taking place throughout the Atlanta area.

Radloff Middle School principal Patty Heitmuller said she wanted the college students to interact with the kids who attend her school to expose them to the idea of pursuing postsecondary education.

"Our interest was in having the opportunity for our students to be able to interact with college students so it could be more tangible for them that they can go to college, that there are pathways to college," Heitmuller said. "In many cases, many of our students may not know someone who is in college or who is a college graduate."

Today, the college students will accompany 43 eighth-graders on a field trip to Georgia Tech, which will include a tour of the campus.

Tarnow said the Radloff students are interested in learning about college, and the children have asked several questions about dorms, campus food, scholarship opportunities and the classes they can take.

"It's a cool experience," he said. "We're here to show them that college can be done."

Susan Fiesta, an international tax consulting manager who works in Chicago, said Alternative Spring Break allows Deloitte to support United Way, which is one of its major charities, but it's also a way to find future employees. Most of the students participating are majoring in accounting or finance.

"We look at it as an early identification of students that would be potential employees of Deloitte," Fiesta said.