Collegiate Canadians spend their down time raising a roof

By Al Showers – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It's Reading Week for students who attend colleges and universities in Canada. Reading Week is similar to Spring Break.

Instead of spending the week at home, some Canadian college students are in Hancock County. They're helping build a house for a family still struggling four and a half years after Hurricane Katrina.

The 52 college students who are hard at work building a house are all from Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario Canada. It's one of the largest groups of volunteers Habitat Bay-Waveland Area has ever hosted.

"I have a week off, and if I can come down and help somebody get a house that's theirs that they can feel safe in, I think that's one of the greatest things I can do with my time because I've been fortunate enough to be blessed with a home and with parents that were able to provide for me," said student Sheana Correia.

Student Tony Kartalianakis agreed.

"When I heard opportunity through a friend to come out and help with Katrina 'cause I've heard about all of the crazy things that have happened down here, it really intrigued me to see really first hand what's going on and how I can make a difference," Kartalianakis said.

Most of these students are members of the Campus Habitat Club which works on projects in their local area as well as around the world. It was a 1,250 mile, 26-hour bus ride to get here and cost each student about $300.

"Where we come from, Wilfrid Laurier University, is a very it's basically renown in Canada for being very volunteer based and focused on just doing thing for free," said senior Jason Tissera.

Their t-shirts which say "Laurier Raised The Roof In Mississippi" showed just how eager they were to get the job done.

"Literally, right now you came at the perfect time. We are raising the roof," said Correia.

And the unseasonable cold weather in South Mississippi makes them feel right at home.

"It's a lot warmer than it is back up in Canada, there it's around negative 10 or less than 30 degrees, it's almost like our summer time it's pretty nice," explained student Christel Wilkat.

The students say the highlight of their work experience so far has been getting to meet the family that will occupy the house.

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