College students volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Winston-Salem during spring break

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Nearly 40 college students are putting down the beach balls and picking up hammers.

Students from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, University of Virginia in Charlottesville and Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven are building homes for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County.

Crews are spread out between two work sites on Richard Allen Lane in Winston-Salem. Gianna Mastroninni is from Southern Connecticut State University. She said it was an easy decision to spend her spring break in the Piedmont instead of the coast.

"It is special to know what we are doing is making a big difference in a family's life," Mastroninni said.

Knowing that their work will help a deserving family, the group doesn't think twice about climbing the ladders to work on the roof or the tedious task of putting up siding. Construction Supervison Brian Johnson is impressed by their work.

"Some of them have done it before. Some have never held a hammer before. They seem to love it," Johnson said.

Mike Campbell is the executive director/CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. Campbell said he knows why college students love working in Forsyth County.

"We have a beautiful 40-bed lodge in Winston[-Salem] for the college students to come and stay so we tend to draw more students than most Habitats across the United States," Campbell said.

With so many helpful hands in town, the college students get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.

"Last week this home didn't have a roof. Their work will move us along six weeks ahead of our schedule," Campbell said.

Gracie Gillespie is from LaSalle University. For her and the college students, building two homes in Winston-Salem during spring break means more than spending a carefree week away from school.

"I think that any college student can do whatever over spring break," Gillespie said. "I thought this is a good opportunity to come together and work for a cause bigger than ourselves."

Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County is also popular with high school groups and retirees that like to travel to different cities and volunteer.

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