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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- One hundred college students from schools across the United States have opted to maximize their spring breaks to help others in need. They are participating in the 25th anniversary of Habitat for Humanity's Collegiate Challenge--to start construction on four homes in just five days.

Wednesday marks the third day of project, which students successfully have progressed, despite this week's inclement weather. Habitat Forsyth executive director Sylvia Oberle said by the time the students depart Saturday, the homes will be structurally finished and ready for four families to move in within the next two months. Oberle said after the students leave, finishing the projects will be entrusted to Habitat Forsyth's partner, the Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem, and volunteers from the general public.

Chris Thompson, the president of the Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem, described the college students as very eager to work. He said several have asked to work past regular hours. He said the success of Habitat Forsyth projects depend not only on the volunteer force but also on experienced leaders--like members of the Home Builders Association--to patiently teach students.

The students involved with this project are working on four houses on Burton Street in the Glenn Oaks neighborhood, which is near downtown Winston-Salem. In the neighborhood currently are other homes built by Habitat Forsyth. Oberle said the 4,000 hours of volunteer labor the students are providing this week is worth more than $60,000 at an hourly equivalent rate. Habitat Forsyth estimates the four houses will add approximately $350,000 to the property tax base and continue Habitat Forsyth's revitalization process of the historic Boston-Thurmond neighborhood.

Habitat Forsyth's 25th anniversary of the collegiate challenge is sponsored by IMG and BB&T. It has received additional support from the Children's Home, which has donated use of its dormitories for students.

Participating schools are Villanova University, Coe College, LaSalle University, the University of Florida, St. John's University, Vanderbilt University, Southern Polytechnic State University, Susquehanna University and the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

For more information about how to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, visit the organization's home page or call 336-765-8854.

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