Students build homes for the needy through weeklong ‘blitz build’ effort

By Kyle Miller

(U-WIRE) AMES, Iowa – Although the recent rains have put them behind schedule, volunteers for the Iowa State University chapter of Habitat for Humanity’s Homecoming Week Blitz Build haven’t lost any of their spirit.

The Blitz Build project, an annual event in its seventh year, is a program in which a house gets mostly built in a week. This gives ISU and Ames-area residents the chance to volunteer for the cause and to allow an area family, selected by Central Iowa’s branch of Habitat for Humanity, to have a roof over its head, said Ashley Dickinson, president of the ISU chapter for Habitat for Humanity and senior in mechanical engineering and exercise science.

Although there is a large amount of work involved in building a house, Dickinson said the end result is always satisfying for all parties involved.

“The Blitz Build has always been a big challenge and a big success,” she said. “We really appreciate all the people who have taken the time out of their busy schedules.”

Dickinson said, although construction was postponed on Sunday and for some of Monday, there has not been any lack of volunteers for the project.

“We have plenty of people who want to swing a hammer,” she said. “(But it’s hard) sometimes to find people who want to advocate, educate and raise funds. We have to turn away people sometimes.”

Dickinson said it usually costs between $60,000 and $80,000 to build a home in this area. A family is selected to live in the home based on proven financial need and the family’s ability to pay off an interest-free loan on the house, granted by a Habitat for Humanity-designated lender. The family must also put in a number of “sweat equity hours,” which entail helping build future Habitat homes and volunteering in area Habitat for Humanity offices.

ISU students volunteered for a variety of reasons, but the main factors were to experience something different and to help people in need.

“I thought that it was a good thing to get out there and help out a family that needs it,” said Garrett Long, freshman in aerospace engineering.