The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 25, 2009

UPJ students spend holiday building homes


For seven Pitt-Johnstown students and two staff members, Thanksgiving break means something other than a trip home to fill up on turkey and pumpkin pie and catch up on sleep.

Instead, they are working in Toronto to continue the construction of two connecting homes being built for families with disabled children. The trip is a project of the university’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Bryan Valentine, Pitt-Johnstown director of student engagement and union operations, and Angela Boyd, Pitt-Johnstown career counselor, are chaperoning the group.

“I am proud to work with such dedicated and selfless students who understand the importance of giving back to the world community,” Valentine said.

The students are working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, he said.

“I feel like this is the perfect time to do a build,” said Carly Wetmore, a student from Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, before departing. “Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what you have and giving to those who don’t have much.

“In this case, we’ll be giving a deserving family a place to live, and to me, that’s the greatest gift to give.”

Matt Hankinson, a student from New Baltimore, agreed.

“I’m giving up my Thanksgiving at home so someone else has a home for Christmas,” he said.