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Collegiate challenge

Ten students from St. Olaf College in Minnesota swapped their iPads and PCs for hammers and nails on Monday to help build a Habitat for Humanity home on Hickory Street in Hartselle.

Their first task was to install vinyl siding on the three-bedroom house Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County is building for Beth Parker, a mother of four children.

“This will be our first home and I’m so thankful,” Parker said. “My eldest son is a sixth grader and we’ve moved around so much he is now attending his fourth school. We hope to move here in May and that’ll be a cause for celebration.”

St. Olaf’s is observing spring break this week and most of its students are taking advantage of the opportunity to get away from their books for rest, relaxation and fun.

“It was a chance for us to help other people in a positive but fun-filled way,” said Meredith Lockwood. “Besides working for Habitat, we’re going to visit the Marshall Space Flight Center and attend a hockey game in Huntsville. That will be a lot of fun.”

“Lockwood said she and her companions drove down from Northfield, Minn. over the weekend, a 16-hour drive, and are lodging at West Hartselle Baptist Church. They plan to return home on Saturday.

“So far it’s been great,” she added. “Everyone we’ve met has been very friendly and hospitable.”

“I’m here because my grandpa was a carpenter and I enjoyed working with him as a youngster,” said Brady Lambert. “I’ll learn things on this project that will be helpful to me later on in life, and I’ll be doing community service at the same time. This is my first visit to Alabama so I’m looking forward to meeting new people and seeing a different part of the country.”

“We really enjoy having students on the job,” Habitat project manager Marlon Morris said. “They’re like sponges. They have no problem jumping in and doing anything we ask them to do.”