Spring Break is a time that many college students set aside to rest and reenergize away from their studies. What’s better than leaving all your books in Troy and flying somewhere tropical with friends for a week of fun? It sounds great for some, but not everyone decides that fun involves a beach, piña coladas, or room service. This year, a team of eight dedicated RPI students went to Harrisburg, P.A. to participate in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge, an opportunity to spend the week serving others and giving back to those in need.
The team served at many places in Harrisburg. They began at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, organizing pallets of food for eligible government programs. The next day was spent at a ReStore in Harrisburg. ReStore is a second hand store run by Habitat for Humanity where all the proceeds go to run Habitat for Humanity operations. At the ReStore, the team cleaned and organized shelves of hardware and paint, moved an entire wall of lighting fixtures, labeled and organized donated doors, and mopped floors of the showroom. From there, they went on site to a duplex that had just been donated to Habitat. The building had been damaged from a recent fire and needed to be torn down to the brick walls. Armed with crowbars and sledgehammers, the team excitedly tore down walls and carted out debris. These two days of fun with demolition and awesome homemade sloppy joes with sweet tea brought onsite were the highlight of the week. The last day, the team helped clean out a warehouse that Habitat had recently sold. Many of the goods were brought back to the ReStore for sale and used for profit to go back into projects in the Harrisburg area.
Lodging was at the Camp Hill United Methodist Church, which had a full commercial sized kitchen, locker rooms for showering, and a basketball court that was used every night! Team members cooked dinner for the first couple of nights, and the church community graciously fed us Wednesday, and Habitat set up a wonderful dinner on Thursday. The team drove back to RPI the Friday after the work day. Christine Desplat, President of the RPI Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, was a vital member of the trip. When asked for her opinion of the experience, she wrote, “We are so grateful for the opportunity to help such an incredible organization like Habitat for Humanity. It’s such a treat to be able to directly see the impact you’re making on someone’s daily life, whether it’s by providing them with food or shelter. I was so excited to work with so many amazing and dedicated people, from my fellow Habitat members to the professional staff involved with Habitat and the Collegiate Challenge. I could not have asked for a better spring break trip, or better people to share it with.”