College students sacrifice Spring Break to volunteer for Amarillo non-profit

A group of dedicated college students spend a week learning how to build houses in Amarillo (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

Amarillo’s for Habitat for Humanity is hosting 25 students from Elmhurst College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison this week. The students are helping the non-profit with construction of two new houses in Southeast Amarillo. The students are spending their Spring Break learning how to build two houses at once while using every-day tools.

“By working on two houses we get to see one that has the framework and we get to see what one is going to look like,” said Aimee Schroeder, college student. “The house that is close to being finished serves as an endpoint for us.”

“It’s always fun to build no matter if it’s painting or doing carpentry work,” said Javier Castro, college student. “You have to have good leadership abilities to be able to direct such a large group of volunteers.”

The students gave up their Spring Break vacation to improve housing for two families in Amarillo. The students tell ABC 7 News the experience of coming to a city like Amarillo and improving housing conditions for strangers is worth the cost of the trip and the hours of labor.

“Knowing that you’re making a difference in somebody else’s life is an incredible feeling,” said Mike Damron, college student. “I would take this any day over partying and drinking.”

Due to insurance liabilities, Habitat for Humanity is only able to accommodate 25 students at a time. One advantage to having two groups at the same time is the amount of work that can be accomplished.

“When we have a large group like this, especially with a group that features experience, we can actually cut a month and a half off of our building progress,” said Alason Moorhead, Interim Director,

The students who elect to raise money and spend a week working on building a house, as opposed to going to popular Spring Break vacation destinations, tell ABC 7 News the experience with Habitat for Humanity helps better prepare them for life after college. Habitat for Humanity works with area attractions in the Panhandle to provide an educational experience for Spring Break.

“We go to the Big Texan and to Route 66 and to a ranch and to Palo Duro Canyon and those trips in the evenings help expand our horizons as we experience these towns that were visiting,” said Schroeder.

The 108th and 109th houses are expected to be completed within two months. Normal construction time for a house can take three to six months. The two new houses are ADA compliant. Future homeowners have to meet the necessary requirements to have a new house. Requirements include putting down a $1,500 deposit, attending 30 financial stability classes and spending 500 volunteer hours or sweat-equity hours at the job site.

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