Clemson University students spend Spring Break in Gifford helping community

GIFFORD – Students from South Carolina’s Clemson University spent their spring break painting a house, tutoring children and helping Habitat for Humanity instead of soaking up the rays on a beach.

“We can actually get something done this way,” 22-year-old Jordan Hinson said, taking a quick break from painting Gifford resident Carol Collier’s home.

He added that they are able to enjoy the sun and weather, being outside, working.

“It’s going great,” Hinson said. “We’re enjoying each other’s company.”

Collier lives in Gifford with her two sons, 17-year-old Javine Matthews and 10-year-old Johnathen Presley. Their home on 30th Avenue had sustained damage in the 2004 hurricanes, damage Collier is still working to repair.

“We had some major damages,” she said, explaining that Every Dream Has A Price had helped get the house patched up.

“The house was in desperate need of painting,” Collier said, adding that if not for the Clemson University students helping out, it would have been some time before she could have saved up enough money to hire a professional or buy the supplies herself.

“I’m so grateful,” Collier said of the assistance the students provided.

She said that the students not only helped out around the house, painting and cleaning, but they also spent time with the family, helping with Algebra homework and sharing Scripture.

“That inspired me spiritually,” Collier said.

The students are members of the university’s Navigators, an on-campus, non-denominational Christian organization.

The purpose of the Spring Break mission is to provide the students an opportunity to serve others and develop their sense of community, according to Campus Director Jason Johnston.

The Gifford trip was meant to provide the students with options for service – manual labor, tutoring, and sales.

“We’re very stretched,” Johnston said, referring to how they feel about helping those in need of help.

He said that many of the students have never been exposed to those who have such struggles.

Sarah Stalnaker, 19, and Susan Butler, 21, spent the first part of the week at the Gifford Youth Activity Center playing with the children, reading to them and helping them with their homework.

“It was awesome,” Butler said. “We basically just loved on the kids.”

Clay Templeton, 22, also spent time at the GYAC working with the youth.

“Knowing their position and seeing how happy they are, helps me find joy in that,” Templeton said.

Grace Custer, 18, spent time at the Habitat for Humanity Home Center, hanging art, pricing items and working with the volunteers and staff.

“It’s just been a great experience,” Custer said of being able to help. “It’s an overflow of what Christ has done for us – we do for others.”

Johnston said that they would be remiss if they didn’t thank Kings Baptist Church, on 58th Avenue, for its support. The church allowed the 31 students to stay in the gymnasium at no charge – saving them the expense of hotels.

Coastal Community Church, in Sebastian, also assisted by putting the Navigators in touch with local organizations.

The students head back to South Carolina on Saturday.

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