PICKENS COUNTY — College students from across three Northern states are foregoing the traditional Spring Break destinations like Myrtle Beach and Panama City for a slightly more rural destination: Liberty, Pickens and Easley.
Pickens County Habitat for Humanity will be hosting student volunteers in for an “alternative spring break” in 2017.
“Thirty-five students from Widener, Connecticut College and North Central Universities will help build homes and improve the community during their spring break as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge program,” said Habitat spokesperson Cindy Sanders.
“I’m actually always shocked and amazed they come down. I mean they’re college kids. You would think they’d rather be at the beach or something but we’ve (Pickens County) have been doing this a long time and we’re a pretty popular destination for this program.”
Sanders said the Pickens County “spot” in the registry was completely filled within 15 minutes of registering.
“And it’s not all work. They went on a rafting trip this (Friday) afternoon. Most of these kids are from up North so they’re hoping for warm weather. Sometimes it works out that way, sometimes not,” she said.
The majority of the students will spend the weeks of March 6 through March 24 volunteering with Pickens County Habitat.
“We pick those dates because that’s when the majority of schools schedule their Spring Breaks, but we just had the group from Widener down here and they’ll head back up tomorrow.”
Sanders said in addition to hosting students, Pickens Habitat also sends groups out to other areas of the country.
According to Sanders, the students will break up into three groups working in Liberty, Pickens and Easley putting down flooring, installing cabinets, landscaping, painting and doing finish carpentry work.
“We also hope to begin the floor system for our next house, which will be in Clemson,” she said.
But it’s not just families in Pickens County that will benefit from the “Spring Break.” In all, Habitat for Humanity organizations across the United States will host 7,500 college and high school students in 182 communities.
“Our Collegiate Challenge program unites students from across the country with the common goal of helping people who are ready to build a better life for themselves and their families,” said Maureen O’Leary, Habitat for Humanity International’s associate director of youth and young professional engagement. “Every hand helps Habitat homeowners build a foundation they need for a brighter future. We’re grateful to the thousands of students who choose to spend their spring break volunteering with Habitat. With our help, Habitat homeowners have the opportunity to build what we all deserve – a decent place to live.”
According to the organization’s website, Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge program has engaged students since 1989. In that time, nearly 240,000 students have volunteered a week of their time and donated over $28 million to support Habitat’s work in local communities.
“The thing about Habitat is you don’t have to know how to build a house in order to volunteer. We teach you one thing,” Sanders said. “You’ll do that until you’re a pro at it.”
Pickens County Habitat has been around since 1981 working to provide decent, affordable housing in the county.
People interested in becoming involved may contact Pickens County Habitat at 864-878-6374 or visit www.pickenshabitat.org.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.