Each fall and spring, Habitat for Humanity enrolls students to spend their breaks from school breaking ground on brand new homes for families in need.
For the first time in two years, students came to Russell County to start on a home on 22nd Street in Phenix City.
"Hundreds of students all across the nation are giving up their spring break to come and help Habitat affiliates," explained Jim Slaughter with Habitat for Humanity of Russell County.
Ten students from the University of New Hampshire drove South.
"It was a 20 hour trip and we were packed into a compact van," said University of New Hampshire student Sean Leonard.
They made the trip to spend their week hammering and sawing to piece together the 1,200 square foot home for a low income family currently living in substandard housing. It's an experience students say they won't soon forget.
"It's definitely a humbling experience because coming from New Hampshire or Connecticut where I'm from, we have it easy compared to families like down here who need these houses," adds Stephanie Simoulis, also a student at the University of New Hampshire.
When finished, Slaughter says the mortgage on the more than $100,000 home will be offered to a family at around $75,000 as long as they meet Habitat for Humanity's standards and put 500 hours of work into the home. Volunteers say all of these factors played a role in their decision to spend their break this way.
"There are tons of people in the country who could use a project like this," Leonard said. "And I think it really helps bring out the best in people." And Simoulis chimes in, saying "I would actually love to stay and finish this house, but you know we can only stay for the week."
The students wrap up their alternative spring break Friday at noon. Jim Slaughter tells me another group of volunteers will take over the building where these students left off and he expects the house to be finished in May or June.
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