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Elon students mark MLK Day of Service with hammers and heart

A group of Elon students volunteered at a Habitat for Humanity building site in Burlington on Friday as part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. 

Students from Elon volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Burlington as part of a Day of Service in celebration of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. 

Sharrell Summers is so excited about moving into her new home this spring that she stops by the Habitat for Humanity construction site nearly daily, putting "sweat equity" into the house's construction, snapping photos to detail progress and talking to volunteers helping build her home. 

"This is going to be something we can come home to and say, 'this is our home," the 26-year-old mother said of the house on Hampton Court that she will share with her four-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. "I am so thankful that we have volunteers coming in to help make this possible."

Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Merricks works on the Habitat house. 

On Friday, Jan. 11, among those volunteering were a team of Elon students along with Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Merricks who gathered to participate in the university's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, part of the lineup of events at Elon in January to celebrate the life and legacy of the civil rights leader. Friday's day of service builds upon the work that Elon's Habitat for Humanity chapter has been doing that's resulted in new homes for a number of families during the past several years. 

Olivia Duffield '20, executive director of the campus chapter, said volunteering with Habitat offers an opportunity for Elon students to serve while getting to know members of the broader community and assisting a family as they work towards building and owning their own home. Duffield notes that Habitat homeowners are required to invest time working on their own homes, the homes of others as well as for the local Habitat chapter as part of the process. 

"It's not like you're getting a free house," Duffield said. "For these families, having their own home really helps them create a foundation that they can build upon."

Ian Weiler '22 from Westport, Connecticut, was among the students who participated Friday. Volunteering offers the opportunity to expand the Elon experience while also assisting those in the community, he said. "It's an opportunity to learn team-building, and it really feels good to be with other Elon students to help out," he said. 

Summers said she's been eager to begin her work toward her own Habitat house, completing her 100 hours of "sweat equity" within a matter of weeks at the same time she's been working as manager of a local McDonald's restaurant. She said she feels blessed that others in the community want to contribute to building her family a home. 

"They could be doing so many different things, but instead they want to come out here to volunteer," Summers said. 

Learn more about Elon's Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative events this month here

Owen Covington,
1/11/2019 11:35 AM