What they brought

The nearly 600 volunteers who came for the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project brought a lot with them: tool belts, hard hats, a need to serve, a sense of adventure. But a few packed unique and sometimes surprising items for their week building homes in Haiti.

Compiled by Phil Kloer and Soyia Ellison
  • Liz Crossman's boots  For her first Habitat build in 1991, Liz Crossman bought a pair of $12 work boots at Target. When she got home, her husband, David, wrote the location of the build — Pikeville, Kentucky — on the boots. He's been doing that ever since, through 21 builds. In 2011, Crossman was elected chair of Habitat for Humanity International's board of directors. "Three years after the earthquake, it's disheartening how much devastation there still is in Haiti," she said. "But here in Santo, we can see what we've done. There's a transformation in this community, and it's beautiful."  © Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein
  • The Roof Dawgs' pink flamingos  Chuck Mano of Racine, Wisconsin, met a gang of volunteers who call themselves The Roof Dawgs at the Carter Work Project in Los Angeles in 2007. The Floridians have since adopted him as part of their crew. Now Mano and the Roof Dawgs are working on a block of houses that all have pink flamingos planted in their yards. Robert Collette of Broward County, Florida, upgraded his plane ticket so that he could bring along two boxes of the flamingos. The teams will sign and bless the plastic birds and give them to the new homeowners Friday.  © Habitat for Humanity International/Allen Sullivan
  • Gary Ashby's Dickens paperback  Gary Ashby, a Toronto neurosurgeon attending his first Carter Work Project, brought a worn copy of Charles Dickens'  A Christmas Carol  to read during breaks from building. "It's good to read out here to keep your balance," he said. Ashby said he re-reads the story about once a decade, and he chose it for this trip not just because of the season but also because "it's good to read when you're dealing with the poor."  © Habitat for Humanity International/Allen Sullivan
  • Rose Miller's markers  Volunteer Rose Miller of Thousand Oaks, California, brought a pad of paper and a bundle of markers and gave them to homeowner partner Jean-Jules Primose, along with a request. Primose took them back to the tent where she lives with her daughter Fredeline, 4, and son Christopher, 2½, and asked them to draw their new Habitat house. Miller, an IT analyst with a biotech company, will mix the finished artwork and photos of the house into a collage and send it as a thank-you card to the 30 friends who donated to her trip. "People don't want me to bring back tchotchkes," Miller said. "They want to see what they helped build and the family that will live there."  © Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein
  • Monica Craven's cow  Monica Craven was 11 when she went to Girl Scout camp in Michigan and bought a small stuffed cow she named "Camp Cow." "I was 11 — don't make fun of the name," she said, laughing. Now 31 and executive director of Habitat for Humanity Mahoning County in Ohio, she has taken Camp Cow on many adventures, including strapping him to her hydration pack on a cross-country Habitat fundraising bicycle ride in 2003. This is Camp Cow's third Carter Work Project. He started the week clipped to the outside of Craven's backpack, but since Craven is the safety director overseeing several blocks of houses, she decided that wasn't a safe place to carry him. So she tucked him inside.  © Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein