Beach or build? College students choose service - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Beach or build? College students choose service

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - When you think of Spring Break, you probably think of the beach and laid back days off from school. Some college students are saying forget the beach--bring on the work!

Between now and the end of March, nearly 200 students from all over the United States will spend time in Albany building Habitat for Humanity homes.  

There is lots of laughter in the afternoon sun in Albany. After all, it is Spring Break for these college students. "Georgia was my choice," said student Kari Foss.

Kari Foss' friends chose other locations for their week of freedom. "Some of my friends are in Mexico, in Cancun," said Foss. But Foss and 19 of her Concordia College classmates are hammering their time out in Albany, Georgia.  They drove 30 hours to get here.

"It's pretty tough," said Foss, "this is probably the hardest work I've done on a house ever."

"These students donate money and their time. Instead of going on Spring Break, they come and work and give back to local communities," said Flint River Habitat For Humanity Executive Directer Stacey Odom-Driggers.

Students are working side by side, putting siding on houses, eventually to put a family in a home. "That's why we spend a lot of time making sure the pieces line up perfectly," said student Josh Ydstie, "this is someone's home and we want them to be proud of it."

Working hard along with them is Jershondria Wilson. "Putting in some sweat hours as they call them," said Wilson.

As a Habitat home applicant, one of the homes could eventually be hers. "I have a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old and my goal has always been before my oldest goes to kindergarten, have a home where they can grow and we can call our own," said Wilson.

That sense of ownership could be reality with the help of these amateur homebuilders who sacrificed their Spring Break time. "I have all the time in the world this Summer," said Foss.

They say their time is better spent helping others. "It'll be fun to come back one day and say 'hey I helped build that house'," said Ydstie.

But the work is just beginning. For now, hammers are down.  The Spring Break laughter mixed with hard work will begin again at 8 in the morning.

Over the next few weeks, as students come from places like Arkansas and Iowa, Habitat will raise about $18,000.

Locals are helping out on the project too. Lincoln Elementary Magnet School students collected money and will help feed the out-of-towners. Habitat welcomes other volunteers to come out and help build the homes.

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