CLEMSON — Clemson University’s Homecoming week seeks to bring the community together in a way that hits home with the 26th annual Pickens County Habitat for Humanity house building collaboration. Over the past 25 years, the Clemson community has built 26 homes that are still occupied and have given families opportunity and empowerment by removing the physical and mental hardships that occur with housing instability.
Clemson University’s Habitat for Humanity club has more than 50 active members who work to raise funds and solicit materials for the project throughout the year along with organizing the 900-plus student and employee volunteers for the build. The Campus Chapter officers coordinate with Pickens County Habitat for Humanity, which builds approximately three houses a year for families in need with volunteer labor. One of their recent homes was constructed the help of Clemson University volunteers, including athletes and coaches.
“Habitat for Humanity was the first organization I joined as a freshman at Clemson,” said Habitat for Humanity Club President Taylor Casey. “In my first year, I fell in love with Habitat for Humanity, its mission, and the people I was fortunate enough to work with. I was excited and grateful when the opportunity came for me to take on the role of president. I am so proud to represent an organization that strives to provide the best route to success for so many families. I am so thankful for the experiences, memories, and lessons learned over the past four years working with Habitat for Humanity.”
“The Homecoming Build has been an amazing way for our club to interact with Clemson community members,” Casey said. “This tradition brings the support of so many community members, who help make our goal a success. One of my favorite parts of the Homecoming Build is coming together with community members to work towards a common goal. It is really special to see the relationships built between students of the university and community members who call Clemson their home. These relationships are some that I will hold onto forever. I think this build is just an example of how the community can come together and make something truly special happen.”
The Homecoming Build has more than 943 hour-long spots for volunteers, allowing even students and staff who have limited time to contribute their services. There is already a growing list of organizations ready to be involved.
Among them are students from Alpha Omega Epsilon, Beta Alpha Psi, ClemsonLIFE program, Clemson Computing and Information Technology (CCIT), Delta Sigma Theta, Engineering World Health, Future Health Professionals, University Housing and Dining, the Human Resources Department, the ice hockey team, and Tau Beta Pi. Some groups will even volunteer for “night guarding” of the house while it sits overnight on Bowman Field. The night guards this year come from Phi Epsilon fraternity, the Associated General Contractors of America student chapter, Gamma Sigma Sigma sorority, the Contractors Guild, Officers’ Christian Fellowship, Alpha Phi Omega, Theta Tau, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Cooperative Student Fellowship and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Clemson University Habitat for Humanity Homecoming Coordinator Sydney Bertram talked about why she loves the Homecoming Build. “I have been involved with Habitat for Humanity since the beginning of my freshman year. The Homecoming Build is an incredible way to get connected with the wider Clemson area,” Bertram said. It gives me the opportunity to get to know and work alongside many of the people who support our Clemson community. I cannot think of a better way to spend my years here at Clemson.”
The build on Bowman Field is an opportunity for the wider Clemson community to give back and help make a difference with local residents. This year, the house is being built for a U.S. Postal Service employee and her daughter. Their current housing situation is cramped – they live at the goodwill of the recipient’s mother with two other family members. The Pickens County recipient is most looking forward to raising her daughter in a safe and healthy environment where she has room to grow.
As the university has grown, so has the cost of living in the area. By having an annual build, Clemson University is giving back to its expanding community and creating a home that allows stability for a local hard working family.
ClemsonLIFE student Mary Catherine Price, asked why she’s excited to volunteer again to help with this year’s build, said, “I enjoy volunteering in the community because one of my passions is to help people in need. I feel like the community has helped me in many ways throughout my life and I want to give back whenever there is gets the opportunity.”
On Friday, Oct. 25, the shell of the house will be completed and open for the community to see along with the Homecoming floats built by student organizations on Bowman.
The process is a collaborative effort with dedicated Clemson donors who give money every year. The Campus Chapter is aiming to raise its fundraising goal from $65,000 to $85,000, which more accurately reflects the cost of materials and services needed to build a home in Pickens County. The organization members would love to exceed that fundraising goal. Donations can be made online at https://www.mightycause.com/story/Sw5ipf or by check to P.O. Box 412 Clemson, SC 29633 with Homecoming Build in the memo line.
Clemson’s Habitat Chapter is still looking for volunteers for the build. Click here to sign up for a slot. For project updates, see the Clemson University Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
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