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SUNY Canton students to rebuild house for alternative spring break

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CANTON — Spring break is usually seen as a chance for students to party or relax in the midst of the spring semester, but 20 SUNY Canton students see it as a chance to make a round-trip drive to Georgia to build a house for those in need.

The students are part of the college’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, and are participating in an “alternative spring break” program.

The students have spent the semester gathering cans and bottles and raising funds to pay for the trip. SUNY Canton has had an alternative spring break for five years, but this is the largest group yet to participate.

“I am so excited to be able to travel and see new people and a new place, and to help people, not just in the area, but across the country,” said sophomore Sabrina J. Blayda, of Vestal. “It’s a long-term gratification I’m hoping will stay with me for a long time.”

Even though the trip is about the work, there is still an element of excitement, travel and vacation.

“The students got to pick where they want to go, realizing they have to raise the funds to go where they choose. They wanted to go someplace warm, someplace they haven’t been,” said Joanne M. Fassinger, SUNY Canton’s grants coordinator and head of the campus Habitat for Humanity chapter.

The students will travel to Statesboro, Ga., and meet with students from Georgia Southern University.

SUNY Canton junior and Cato native Joanne M. Cummins has participated in two previous alternative spring breaks and said it is always a moving experience to build a house with those who will live in it.

“It’s truly touching when you see the family that wants to move in there working beside you,” she said. “It always ends up in tears.”

Ms. Fassinger said she does not teach in a classroom, but she still hopes to play a part in students’ education by helping them learn the value of volunteering.

“No matter where they live they will be able to give of their time, and of their energy, not always of their dollars,” she said.

The SUNY Canton Habitat for Humanity chapter has also spent the semester building a house in Norwood, which it plans to complete upon returning from Georgia.

The students left at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, and return March 16.

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