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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

Building a better future: habitat offers alternative spring break experience

By Maren Daniel
Staff Writer

Friday, March 5, 2004

Over spring break, as many students go home or on vacation, some will travel to Florida, Texas and Virginia to spend the week building houses for Habitat for Humanity.

This years participation is typical, with 33 students, a third of whom are volunteering for the second or third time, involved in the trips.

Although enrollment is limited, student coordinator Lindsey Hooker '05 hopes to expand the program next year to include more students due to "a huge overflow of interest."

Hooker, who has been involved with Habitat for Humanity since high school, will be leading her third spring break trip with the St. Olaf affiliate this year. The chance to learn new skills and volunteer are what attracted her to Habitat.

"I feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment working at the sites," Hooker said. "It is amazing to get to work side-by-side with the homeowners. They have so much to say."

Volunteers were selected out of a pool of interested students based on seniority and participation in the group's fundraisers.

"Preference is given to students who've volunteered during the year because that shows a real commitment to Habitat and shows us that they're not just looking for a cheap spring break trip  that's definitely not what we're about," Hooker said.

Once chosen, volunteers indicated which locations they preferred. Officers decided from there which students would be sent to Dade City, Fla., Laredo, Texas, and Arlington, Va. Only 11 students can be sent to each location due to limited space in the school vans.

St. Olaf has been sending students on Habitat spring break trips for 10 years. In recent years, students have gone to Florida, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina and Utah. In previous years, four trips have been offered. However, since not all of the spots were filled, Habitat has had to limit itself to three trips this year.

Although St. Olafs group only takes these trips over spring break, they hope to begin building in the Twin Cities throughout the year.

While it is too late to sign up for any of this years trips, Hooker recommends that students interested in future trips sign up at the co-curricular volunteer fair at the beginning of the year, where they will be placed on an e-mail alias and given information about meetings and fundraising opportunities throughout the year. The cost for volunteers is around $150.

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