CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – College students on the east coast are spending their spring break in Horry County, but they aren’t just here for the beach.  

Students from Widener University in Pennsylvania, James Madison University in Virginia, and the University of Florida are working to give back to a local family through Habitat for Humanity of Horry County. The students have spent every day this week building a house in the Conway area for a mother and her three children.

“I’m very blessed. Very happy,” said new homeowner and mother, Katrina Ward. She said she is thankful for everyone working to complete her new home, and she is also thankful for being able to put her children in a better environment. 

Site director for this project, Rod Adelstone, said Ward had to put in a lot of time to earn this home. Once you apply for a house, you have to complete 200 hours of community service. You also spend time building other people’s homes, and you volunteer in the ReStore for Habitat for Humanity. Adelstone said the adults have to go through financial management courses as well. Older children learn about applying for college, applying for jobs, building resumes, and preparing for interviews. He said younger kids are taught the importance of community service and learn basic financial education. 

Ward said it wasn’t always easy, but she is glad she completed the program. “It was hard trying to balance going to work, raising kids, and keeping up with the program, but if you stay determined and keep your mind to it, you can do it,” said Ward. “It felt awesome to know I was up next and to know I was even accepted into the program.” 

Tyanna Walker is a senior at Widener University in Pennsylvania, and she is one of about 30 students spending their spring break working on the house. 

“We could have been anywhere,” said Walker. “We’re all here for our purpose, and all the schools represented today, we’re all making sure the house gets done to our best ability.” 

In order to become eligible for a Habitat for Humanity home, you will have to submit an application during their fall and spring application periods. The date has not been released for this spring, but Adesltone said to keep checking their website for updated information.