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Students ‘spring’ to action with Habitat for Humanity

More than 10,500 students ‘spring’ to action with Habitat for Humanity

AMERICUS, Ga., (Feb. 8, 2005) – More than 10,500 high school and college students across the country will trade textbooks for tool belts during Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge spring break program.

Between Feb.13 and April 16, students from the United States, Canada, Japan and Germany will travel to 237 locations across the United States to work with volunteers and Habitat homeowners to build simple, decent and affordable homes.

This year’s most popular destinations are Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Throughout its 16-year history, 105,000 Collegiate Challenge volunteers have raised more than $9 million to build Habitat houses. This year, Collegiate Challenge students will contribute $1 million to help build Habitat homes.

“Students who participate in Collegiate Challenge are excited to travel to new places, gain new skills and make new friends while helping build a Habitat for Humanity home,” said Alynn Woodson, Collegiate Challenge manager at Habitat for Humanity International. “In exchange for their building efforts, students learn firsthand about poverty housing issues and about how they can make a meaningful difference today, as well as in the future.”

Collegiate Challenge stories:
Nearly 60 Boston University students will travel to Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina to help build homes. Colin Cookman, president of the Boston University Habitat Campus Chapter, is leading one of the trips to Bunnell, Fla. After spending spring break with Habitat his freshman year, Cookman decided to spend every spring break for the next three years leading Collegiate Challenge trips. “It’s a really good experience,” said Cookman. “It is my favorite part of Habitat, to go out there and physically, visibly make a difference.” Contact: Colin Cookman, 617-272-5819

Students from The Catholic University of America have participated in Collegiate Challenge spring break for the past six years. They have expanded their outreach so that this year 75 students will be traveling to Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida and Texas. The Habitat campus chapter has been fund raising all year, with events such as talent shows, bake sales and an upcoming auction. “I heard about Habitat when I was in elementary school, and since then I’ve been trying to help out,” said Katie Cavan, campus chapter president. “It is a great way to give back.” Contact: Katie Cavan, 508-245-2679

Habitat affiliate host sites are preparing for Collegiate Challenge as well. Columbus Area Habitat for Humanity in Georgia is preparing for more than 200 students from 10 colleges and universities from March 6-11. Students will participate in a “blitz build,” where volunteers will put up all the framing, siding and roofing on a Habitat home in just one week. Columbus Area Habitat has hosted students for Collegiate Challenge Spring Break for the past five years. Mike Cobb, the affiliate’s executive director, said that the students’ willingness to work is a great part of the program. “Students are very eager to work, fun to be around and excited about what their doing,” said Cobb. Contact: Mike Cobb, 706-653-6003

Collegiate Challenge is Habitat for Humanity’s year-round alternative break program, where groups of students from youth groups, high schools and colleges spend a week of their school break building a house in partnership with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in the United States. Students also raise money to contribute toward house construction. To date, the Collegiate Challenge program has raised nearly $10 million for Habitat affiliates.

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than one million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. www.habitat.org