By Stacy Sullivan and Alyssa Leonard
The state of Georgia will be home for 14 Castleton State College students during spring break this year. These students have voluntarily given up their spring break to benefit others through Habitat for Humanity.
This is the first year the organization has become an official club at Castleton. In the past, it has been a branch of other organizations and projects in the area. However, the school felt so passionately about this organization, they adopted their own chapter.
Students will be cramming into fleet vans on March 31 to begin their 21-hour journey to Americus, Ga. accompanied by area coordinators Maria Marinucci and Shaun Williams. Although the club is not sponsored by Residence Life, it spawned from the ideas of the area coordinators.
Sophomore nursing major Chelsea Paola is excited for the trip, saying she is looking forward to the rewarding experience.
“When walking through campus I saw a poster advertising for the trip and knew I wanted to get involved instantly,” she said.
Paola has been involved in Habitat for Humanity before in Boston through her church.
“I loved the experience of helping people less fortunate and felt good about myself afterwards,” she said.
Leading up to Spring Break hasn’t been easy. The students have been conducting several fundraisers including Friendly’s and Applebee’s nights, where 20 percent of each bill was earned when the customer presented a card demonstrating their interest in the Castleton Habitat for Humanity. Each student was additionally assigned to create five baskets made to raffle at the Legion on Lake Bomoseen on March 21. The group has raised about 75 percent of its total goal to date.
Marinucci said she is looking forward to the experience with these students, adding that she has never been on a trip like this before. She said she is most looking forward to watching students grow and change from the opportunity they will have.
“They gain a better understanding of the challenges outside our community that others face, and can see the difference they make,” she said. “Students connect with others on the trip that they may not have a relationship with prior to the experience.”
The club has also been volunteering time a little closer to home, in Manchester, Vt.
On multiple Saturdays, they have worked building a home through the Habitat for Humanity chapter in Bennington.
Freshmen Abigael Roy said she is expecting to “learn how to do handy work through building houses and cleaning up the surrounding area.”
She said not only the Georgia residents will gain from this experience, but the Castleton students will as well.
“Georgia isn’t the first place I expected to be spending my Spring break. However, after all the preparation, I couldn’t be more excited and am okay with sacrificing time I could be laying on the beach for others,” said Paola.