News Archive

Tech Students Give Back to the Community in Alternative Spring Break Project

For the second year running, a group of WVU Tech students spent their spring break working with Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam counties on homes that will provide shelter to families in need.

This year’s group of seven split their time between the Habitat ReStore and two home renovation sites in the Charleston area. At the ReStore, volunteers helped to sort, inventory and store a large donation of bathroom and plumbing materials provided by a local wholesale company. At the build sites, students spent three days cleaning up work sites, hanging siding, building porch railing and installing flooring.

Tiny Hanshaw, Construction Supervisor at the Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam counties, said that the volunteers were a welcome addition to his crew, which typically consists of retired volunteers who pitch in when they can.

“This is good for young folks because it gets them involved in the community. They’re out here putting in the work and it lets them see a real outcome to that effort,” he said. “I think it’s great when we can get college students involved in projects like this.”

WVU Tech Resident Director Michael Sheldon, who organized and led the group, said that students received extra motivation to help during a day at one of the home renovation sites.

“The group got to meet the owner of one of the houses, and they were able to speak with her and find out more about her situation. It made them realize how lucky there are to have a roof over their heads and to have everyday things available to them. It was a chance for them to see the people they’re helping face to face,” he said.

For forensic investigation major Erika Stoffel, the week-long volunteer experience was an extension of the spirit of community so prevalent among WVU Tech students. She said she was proud of the work she and her co-volunteers had accomplished, and that she would recommend the experience to any student.

“Volunteering for this kind of thing shows character. It kind of tells where your heart is when you give up your time to help build something for others.”

“I’m beyond happy that these students are giving up their spring break to do this,” said Sheldon. “They’ve had some long and tiring days and may have missed out on some sleep this week, but they’ve helped a lot of people.”

The WVU Tech Student Government Association supported the project by paying for participating students’ meals. Student participants included Gaetan Gilbrice Tchewa, Ayo Oni, Patrick Gnagbo, Zachary Carnahan and Erika Stoffel.

Visit to find out more about Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam, and be sure to check out WVU Tech on Flickr to see photos from this year’s alternative spring break project.