BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -  For many college students winter break is a time to catch up on sleep and reunite with family, but Western Kentucky University’s Habitat for Humanity chapter had other plans in mind. Every school vacation, the group goes on a trip to assist in servicing and building a new home for someone. Having been all over the nation, this year they chose to travel to New Jersey.

The time the students and faculty give on the trip is mostly in service to help others.

Chapter adviser Bryan Reaka says “The homeowner, the partner they are receiving the most valuable gift, our time, so but the life that’s really changed is intrinsically the person that goes and gives up that time their most valuable resource.” 

While everyone on the trip already had a passion for community service and helping others, the trip was also an experience and a chance to learn about different cultures.

"I learn about different people. I learn that no matter what, no matter what the occupation, no matter what the background where they came from, that we’re all the same. We want safety we want a simple decent place to live” says Reaka.

Five students went on the trip and this freshman  Allie Gordan’s first collegiate service trip. Having only one semester under her belt she says college is the time to give back and get out of your comfort zone.

“I used a saw like a handsaw for the first time that was pretty scary thought I was going to cut my fingers off.”

Working alongside the homeowner the entire week, students were able to grow and learn about a place and a person that they otherwise may have never met. 

"I’ve always been a builder but it wasn’t until I got to be with Habitat for Humanity that I realized that we weren’t just building houses we were building homes and we were building hope, we’re building communities with people. " Reaka continued, "We’re building relationships. So it’s all about building but the thing that we’re building is much different from now from when I started this.”

The WKU’s collegiate chapter of Habitat for Humanity will be going on their next service trip during spring break. There is also an opportunity to take a trip in the summer, and if you are interested in learning more, click here.