At 9 a.m. sharp on a Saturday, an eager crew of high school students from Trinity School at Rivers Edge, Eagan, arrived at the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore to volunteer for a half day. All 16 students quickly pulled on work gloves, donned safety glasses and pitched in on the day’s project: breaking down old, unsellable upholstered furniture for disposal.
Later that morning, the 16- and 17-year-olds from Trinity’s junior class measured and priced rolls of vinyl flooring and organized a product display.
“The kids were eager workers and had a good time,” said Michael Urness, ReStore manager. “The ReStore is a great place for teens to gain volunteer experience because there are fewer restrictions on their activities here than at the construction sites. Our staff is small, so we rely on energetic volunteers like these students.”
Peg Louiselle, Sr. Director of Advancement at Trinity, explained, “We’re in the fourth year of doing service projects, and even though participation is optional, we’re getting over 90 percent of our students to sign up. They research charities each year and take responsibility for signing up volunteers.”
Not only highschoolers, but also college students help out at the ReStore, including those who are members of Habitat for Humanity campus chapters.
Students in those chapters partner with Habitat affiliates to build and repair homes, advocate for affordable housing and raise funds to support Habitat’s mission.
Fifteen members of the Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter at the University of Wisconsin – Stout put in a full day of work at the ReStore on a recent Saturday. It took a lot of muscle to clean out the ReStore’s storage area. Teams of students loaded dollies with new and used windows and doors, rolled them onto the sales floor and restocked displays. They moved stacks of boxed kitchen cabinets, unloaded pallets of donations and priced merchandise.
“Young people come to volunteer at the ReStore and Habitat construction sites because they want to be there,” said Heather Erickson, Senior Associate of Youth and Education Community Relations at Twin Cities Habitat.
“They’re open to being instructed and are adaptable,” added Anna Meyer, Volunteer Programs Manager. “We love young volunteers. Hopefully, they’ll come back and also become Habitat advocates.”
By Barb Machowski