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UMW students on spring break help residents of
A group of University of Mary Washington students planned to spend spring break helping to build a home.
But they also found themselves getting rid of the pieces of three homes.
The group of 15 students left March 3 for Cookeville, Tenn., to help Habitat for Humanity build a home and run its Restore, which sells used and surplus building materials to support Habitat projects.
Friday, a tornado struck just miles north of Cookeville. The students stuck with their original plan, but took a day off to help with tornado relief efforts.
"We were all just happy that we could be here at such a crucial time," said student team leader Vicky Hudspeth.
The crew helped a neighborhood where the houses were missing roofs and walls.
Just a few streets over, most of the houses were completely flattened, Hudspeth said.
The students helped clean up storm debris left in three yards. They worked with the local fire department.
"It seemed as if we barely made a dent, even though we helped three families immensely," Hudspeth said.
The UMW students were amazed by the destruction left by the natural disaster. But they were more
"Donations literally came in all day," Hudspeth said.
Volunteers showed up in droves, and even those with damaged homes lent a hand to their neighbors.
A beer bottling plant took the day off from bottling beer and instead packaged water for volunteers and residents, she said.
During the week, the crew also built a handicapped ramp for a Habitat for Humanity house, worked on the roof and helped out at the Restore.
This crew was one of three UMW teams helping Habitat over spring break. In all, 48 students and three faculty members joined the efforts. The other two teams worked on houses in Wilmington, N.C., and Avery County, N.C.
Habitat for Humanity has held alternative spring break sessions for 23 years.
About 194,000 students nationwide have picked up a hammer and heeded the call to help build homes for people in need.
UMW students sign up for the challenge through the Community Outreach and Resources Office.
Director Christina Eggenberger said that UMW has participated in the annual service program for at least 15 years.
"The students learn practical skills, but more importantly, they help and learn about people in need," she said. "It is a transformative experience for all involved."
Hudspeth, a senior majoring in international affairs and Spanish, has attended three alternative spring break trips.
"You can spend a week in Cancun suntanning on the beach or you can spend the week helping a family who has nothing build a house," she said. "It's a much better way to spend a week."wearehardcoar.tumblr.com
Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973