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Through the Viewfinder: Spring break to build

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — University of Wisconsin senior Carly Griffiths cuts vinyl siding to add to the Habitat for Humanity house on 1016 Martin Luther King Jr. St. Friday morning. Griffiths and ten other students worked to add vinyl siding, install sub-flooring and paint trim on the house.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — University of Wisconsin senior Carly Griffiths cuts vinyl siding to add to the Habitat for Humanity house on 1016 Martin Luther King Jr. St. Friday morning. Griffiths and ten other students worked to add vinyl siding, install sub-flooring and paint trim on the house.

NATCHEZ — Eleven University of Wisconsin-Madison students helped the Natchez Adams County Habitat for Humanity house get a month ahead of schedule during their spring break.

“This has been a good opportunity to see a new place and get to do some good on spring break,” senior and group leader Kelly Derauf said.

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Freshman Hannah Ellis, from left, Mara Kuzmanovic and Carly Griffiths work to add vinyl siding to the house.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Freshman Hannah Ellis, from left, Mara Kuzmanovic and Carly Griffiths work to add vinyl siding to the house.

From March 17 through Friday, the students worked side-by-side with Habitat for Humanity volunteers to add vinyl siding, paint trim and install sub-flooring and soffit at the house at 1016 Martin Luther King Jr. St.

“I wanted to do something productive that would help others during my spring break instead of doing nothing,” freshman Susan Luo said.

The vinyl siding the students put up in three days would normally have taken local volunteers three to four weeks to do, Natchez Adams County Habitat for Humanity secretary Duncan McFarlane said.

“Finishing the house ahead of schedule allows us to start on the next home that much sooner,” he said.

The university’s campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity sent two groups to work on houses while the school is on spring break. Students had the option between Clearwater, Fla. and Natchez.

“I always wanted to do a Habitat trip,” sophomore Mara Kuzmanovic said. “And the history of Natchez appealed to me more than Florida.”

For all of the students, this spring break was their first time visiting Mississippi. Along with working, they had the opportunity to visit Longwood, see a performance of “The Southern Road to Freedom” and enjoy warm doughnuts from The Donut Shop.

“We got the chance to meet the family (receiving the Habitat house),” Hannah Ellis, a freshman at UW-Madison said. “It felt good to know the end product of our spring break was going to have a positive effect on the family.”