Illinois students volunteer at AR's World Services for the Blind

LITTLE ROCK (KATV)--'Tis the season to lend a helping hand and that's exactly what two groups of Illinois students are doing right here in Arkansas.

Sixteen students from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University arrived on Monday and will be here until Friday, volunteering at the World Services for the Blind.

Groups of "alternative breakers", where instead of just going home and relaxing during their holiday break, drove down to Little Rock in hopes of making life easier for the blind.

Students are spending their time working on various service projects around the WSB campus, such as washing windows and raking leaves

"The problem with the leaves is that with their canes they can't tell the difference between the street and the curb, what was happening is that they were walking into different areas because they couldn't tell the difference," said UIC volunteer Melissa Gassman.

"It's nice to raise money, but to actually go out and be active that is what is most important," added Gassman.

"Learn about why different people are blind, what different visual impairments are and how that might affect their everyday life, their life skills, vocational skills, you see we're raking leaves and that's going to help someone cross campus here," said Northwestern University volunteer Katherina Scott.

Dean Ingalls started losing his vision in 1998, by 2003 he no longer had sight. Ingalls has been at client at WSB since May, and will complete the program in February 2014. Ingalls is gaining career training and life skills at WSB.

"Gave me the opportunity to become a teacher again, it's been an excellent fit for me, found the confidence and purpose... feel like the old me again," said Ingalls.

He adds, the best part of having volunteers this week isn't just about the help, but about the impression he is leaving with the students.

"It gives me, as a person here and other clients that our in the program a chance to say we're the same person we were when we had vision, now we lost it, show you how it works, let me show you that," said Ingalls.

Roughly 200 clients a year travel from coast to coast to come to Arkansas' World Services for the Blind. WSB is only center in the country to teach life skills and career training for adults.