WASHINGTON — Howard University students and WHUR FM 96.3 were trying to find the best words to thank the residents of the Washington area, Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Sun Trust Bank for their overwhelming support of the station’s radiothon for Alternative Spring Break (ASB), the student service program to help the underserved across America and in Haiti.

As they do every year, more than 300 Howard students will skip the beaches, other vacation hot spots and even a trip home to help others.

During the annual 12-hour radiothon, March 4, the station and students raised $80,000, more than double the amount collected last year.

“I think WHUR and the Howard University radio network has the best listeners on the planet,” said Jim Watkins, general manager for WHUR and its sister stations. “When we put out a call that we need the community to step up, the community always steps up in a big way.

“It’s an indication of the community understanding the tremendous work that these Howard University students do every year, whether its tackling gun violence in Chicago, tutoring elementary students in Atlanta or Washington, D.C., working on illiteracy in Detroit, feeding the needy or helping in Haiti.”

The largest single donor was Omega Psi Phi, which contributed $25,000. District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon delivered the last of the donation on WHUR during the radiothon.

On Sunday, scores of Howard University students took to the streets from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to raise money to fund their service missions to Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Washington and Haiti, which is still reeling from the 2010 earthquake that has left thousands still homeless and in need of services. They carried donation buckets and waived Helping Hands signs along Georgia Avenue at Bryant Street as they asked passersby for help.

Meanwhile, WHUR took to the airwaves with testimonies from around the nation from those the students aid each year as the station asked the community for help.

And help it did.

“As soon as we opened the phones, we had a call from Trinidad and Tobago with a donation,” said Muriel Garr, vice president for Community Affairs for Sun Trust Bank, which annually provides the accounting as well as online and call-in collection services for ASB. “Right after that, we got a call from a family that donated $500.

“People were very generous in their giving, from $1 through our social media to $1,000. Sun Trust is just happy to be here to help support Howard and the community in this effort.”

This is the 17th year of ASB at Howard University, which expanded dramatically in 2006 following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Lindsay Howard, 20, a junior biology major from Chicago, is going to New Orleans this year, her first ASB trip. She was bundled against the cold as she held her Helping Hands sign and asked for donations.

“I really want to make a difference,” said Howard, who also tutors homeless children as part of Project Dream Big, a transitional housing program in Washington.

Micah Holmes, 19, of Jacksonville, Fla., is heading to Detroit, where he and dozens of other students will work on illiteracy and tutoring and mentoring elementary and high school students.

“There are so many people who are only concerned about themselves,” said Holmes, who is majoring in architecture. “Unfortunately, not enough people take the time to do something extra. That’s what we are doing, that something extra. It improves others’ lives and our lives too.”

Natasha Graves, 21, one of two student directors of ASB, thanked the local and global community for making their mission possible.

“This allows us to make an impact in the lives of people who need our help,” said Graves, a senior majoring in community health. “Without this help, we couldn’t help others.”

To see the work that Howard Students have done for ASB in Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans and other cities, visit the links below.