While spring break means relaxing at home for many college students, a group of 13 students from Wisconsin traveled to Jefferson City to spend their break building homes for River City Habitat for Humanity.
The students - 12 women and one man - made the nine-hour trip to Jefferson City on Sunday with three chauffeurs. They're being hosted at Wesley United Methodist Church, where they will sleep on cots provided by the Red Cross.
"I think it's great," said Colleen Carl, a volunteer coordinator with River City Habitat. "We're going to try to "habitize' them - give them a lifelong experience" that will inspire them to continue working with the organization.
They group will work on three local Habitat homes: 3121 Moreau View, 313 E. Ashley St., and 212 Argonne. They'll participate in the dedication of the latter home on Thursday. Among other things, they'll work on retaining walls, landscaping and framing.
Some of the student volunteers are members of their university's Habitat group, while others are members of the campus Newman Club, a Catholic ministry. In addition to donating their time and talents over spring break, they're also making a monetary donation to Habitat.
It's part of Habitat's Collegiate Challenge, which is celebrating its 25th year.
Sherrie Hoogland, a junior at UW, is one of the 13 students on the trip. Two years ago, a friend "had to drag me" to a local Habitat build, she said. But it was a rewarding experience that led to her first Collegiate Challenge last year. This year, she's the group's leader.
"It's been a really great experience to lead them to a journey to help others," she said.
She's never had formal home-building training or experience before, but life on a farm has taught her to use tools and be handy.
She said she admires Habitat and its ideals, and the fact that building a home is a team effort between volunteers and the future homeowners.
"I really like meeting the different people with Habitat," she said. "They're all charismatic and compassionate and patient to teach us" home-building skills.
Kyle Kittrell, the construction manager for River City Habitat, said the work done by the group this week will help to knock a couple weeks off the projects.
"It just shows you've got some youth who are interested in helping some others and going the extra mile," he said.