Bellarmine students lend helping hand during spring break - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Bellarmine students lend helping hand during spring break

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Many college students head to the beach or other spring break locales for their vacation.

But a special group from Kentucky chose to spend their time in Lake Charles trying to help make things a little better for one local family.

The volunteers from Bellarmine University in Louisville taped, painted and helped prepare a home for a Lake Charles family. The project is part of Project Build a Future's initiative.

Bellarmine student Ashlee O'Neil said she enjoys the sense of community.

"I've never gone on anything like this and I got to meet a lot of new people and do a lot of work that I've never done before," O'Neal said. "Now I know how to paint. So that's good."

Bellarmine has been sending a group to help each year since 2007, when people in the Lake Area were still struggling to recover after Hurricane Rita.

Melanie Prejean Sullivan, with Bellarmine, is from Lake Charles.

Sullivan said the trip provides students a learning experience.

"I think it's really clear how many hands make light work, how quickly they can accomplish things," she said. "Students who have never held a paint brush are suddenly painting an entire house in just a matter of days because they work together."

Today it is a house, tomorrow it may be a different project.

Through it all, students like Rebecca Harping said they get as much as they give.

"It challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone," Harping said. "(You) learn new things as well as meet new people and experience cultures and places that you wouldn't have experienced otherwise."

As enriching as it is for these students, you don't have to leave home to help.

"We're always needing volunteers so they can feel free to give us a call if they'd be interested in volunteering with us," said Nicole Miller, executive director for Project Build a Future. "We don't do daily volunteer opportunities but we do about once a month, we have a volunteer opportunity that we can provide."

Project Build a Future is a nonprofit group that tries to revitalize the area north of Broad Street by helping families who need affordable, permanent housing.

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