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April 8, 2005


LEWISBURG, Pa. — Twenty-eight students from Bucknell University participated in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge by volunteering on housing construction projects in Hawaii and North Carolina during spring break.

Fourteen students and chemical engineering professor Erin Jablonski traveled to Kauai, Hawaii, to aid an area devastated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The group spent their days prefabing walls and trusses for five houses as part of a 100-home project being built by Kaua'I Habitat for Humanity on 45 acres of land.

While in Hawaii, the students had the opportunity to interact with Bucknell alumni Don McConnell, a member of the Class of 1966, and Jenny Fujita, who graduated from Bucknell in 1990.

According to Bucknell sophomore and spring break coordinator Liz Lorson, "Both alumni were extremely generous as McConnell opened his house to our group for lunch and dinner one day and Fujita visited the group on site, bringing us native Hawaiian foods to enjoy."

Another group of 14 students joined Bucknell Dining Services team leader Kendy Alvarez to build houses in High Point, N.C., a small city whose main industry is factory work. The group worked on two different sites, constructing a roof on one house and a foundation on the other. Team leader and sophomore Danielle Bastine said, "We all left feeling good about ourselves. The most rewarding part [of the trip] was the gratitude that people showed [us]."

More than 12,000 students from the United States, Canada and Japan participated in the Collegiate Challenge program, traveling to more than 200 locations in the United States and Mexico.

Lorson says of her trip, "Spending my spring break in Kauai, Hawaii, and building the walls and trusses for five houses was such an amazing experience. It was such a great opportunity to work alongside other college students as well as the home-owners for whom we were building the houses. This trip has made a lasting impression on me."

Lorson says that Habitat plans to have another spring break trip next year and is looking into different locations.

In addition to volunteer work far from the campus, the Bucknell chapter hopes to build and co-sponsor a house next year with Union County. The house would be the second one built by members of the Bucknell Habitat for Humanity group.

Fund-raising plans include the First Annual Duck Derby, scheduled for April 30 on the Bull Run Creek. Participants can sponsor a duck for $5 or $10 for a "six-quack." First prize is $500. The Bucknell chapter also will sell T-shirts at the derby.

According to grant and solicitations chair and sophomore Tom Wagner, another fundraiser being discussed is "to ask downtown businesses and clubs or organizations to advertise by sponsoring a spot on a Monopoly game board." Plans are to have this game available for sale next fall.

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