While most of us are looking forward to much-needed time off during spring break, some students will be heading south to volunteer their time for families in need.

Twenty students will head to South Brevard County, Fla. to join forces with similar collegiate groups from across the nation. Instead of getting hammered, they will spend their spring break hammering nails and roofing the tops of many projects in southern Florida.

The students will arrive in Florida over the first weekend of spring break and will go right to work for the following four days. They will have Friday off, but some will remain on the job site, giving up the one day that could be spent on the beach with the majority of their college peers.

“It’s cool because we get to go on vacation and help someone at the same time,” said participant Rob Richardson.

The students organized the trip in response to Habitat for Humanity’s “Collegiate Challenge.” Habitat’s affiliates in warm climates publicize at universities and invite them to put together teams to participate in the alternative spring break.

Habitat for Humanity was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976. Former President Jimmy Carter helped the foundation gain national recognition when he and his wife volunteered in a project in New York in 1984. Since its founding, Habitat for Humanity has built over 100,000 homes, housing 500,000 people in over 2,000 communities.

A similar trip took place last year when Chris Farwell, the coordinator for Student Activities, brought six students to New York. They did not enjoy the warm weather that this year’s trip promises, but they did volunteer their services for those less fortunate. Last year’s group worked with the Covenant House, a center that provides housing for the homeless. It also has doctors, tutors, and psychiatrists on staff and even a job placement program.

It has not been easy for this year’s students to prepare for their trip. It will cost nearly $7,000 for the 20 students to attend. They’ve already raised over $4,000 through numerous bake sales and a dinner dance that brought in over $2,500.

Eric Smith is the fundraising coordinator for the trip. He will be leading the remaining fundraising events that include a silent auction and a request for funding from the Student Senate.

The students may have to pay some money out of their own pockets but Farwell said that hasn’t deterred them.

“It’s an amazing thing that students are willing to pay to do service for others, ” said Farwell. “It’s very admirable.”

The students leave next Saturday and return a week later. They probably won’t be seen on MTV but will certainly be recognized by the families and communities that they will be helping.

Staff Writer Tyler Stanley can be contacted at: [email protected]

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