FULL STORY: Students Spend Spring Break Renovating Homes

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 4:36pm

EL PASO - It's spring break, which means plenty of college students are hitting the beach. But some students are putting on hard hats and hitting the streets instead.

250 Habitat for Humanity volunteers are renovating homes right here in El Paso, which is a long way from Cancun.

"I wanted to go somewhere hot, right, spring break, get a nice tan," said Megan Mower, a nursing school freshman from Southern Utah University. She left last week and came to work on her tan in a different way.

"I have been painting, and building this shed, and caulking," she said.

But it's not just for the spring break glow or the exercise. It's also for the people they help.

"We moved in the furniture to one of the homeowners and she was a single mom with four little kids, and she was so great," Mower said.

"Just the reward of helping other people and the skills that I learn while I'm down here," said mechanical engineering senior Kyle Schmidt, from the University of Wisconsin.

Homeowners like Collin Eckenroth are grateful.

"It's impossible to describe what they do, they're here at 8:30 in the morning, they don't leave until 4:30 at night," Eckenroth said.

Habitat for Humanity construction manager Tony Rodriguez said these students help renovate homes built two to three decades ago by the organization.

"These are just, I would say, very giving, I mean there's a big heart in helping other people," Rodriguez said.

But he said some parents do call him concerned about our location.

"We get phone calls, you know, everyone hearing about our sister city, Juarez," Rodriguez said.

Even so, the students don't seem to upset about missing the beach.

"I would love to come back here," Mower said.

"I'm happy as a lark," Eckenroth added.

The students leave Sunday, but students from the University of California will be replacing them. In all, ten homes in El Paso are being renovated.

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