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A group of 18 students from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., stopped in Kingston on their way down to Birmingham, Ala., to spend a week building a Habitat for Humanity home, and they received a bit of Southern hospitality that they weren’t expecting.
Jackie Keating, team leader and Ithaca College Habitat for Humanity Chapter president, asked if Roane County Habitat for Humanity would be willing to let the students use the organization’s office as an overnight camp during its 18-hour trip to Birmingham.
Instead, Habitat board members reached out to parishioners at Bradbury United Methodist Church in Kingston to see if they would be willing to give the students beds to sleep in instead of sleeping bags. Five families rose to the challenge and demonstrated the hospitality for which both the church and East Tennessee are known.
“We were overwhelmed by the hospitality that we were shown in Kingston,” said Keating, a senior studying communications and sociology.
“It was great to see the community come together to help each other, and ultimately help us.”
During the course of the trip, the students stayed in touch with a Roane County Habitat member, who updated the Bradbury families along the way.
The students were delayed by traffic issues but were greeted at the church at 9 p.m. by the host families.
The families then took the students to their homes for overnight stays. They brought them back to the church the next morning, and provided snack bags for them to take on the final leg of their trip.
Several students posted blogs while they were in Birmingham, and many said they wished they could have stopped on the way back. The Bradbury host families were as complimentary of the students.
The teaming of the organizations is a “match made in heaven,” Roane County Habitat for Humanity President Todd Fisher said.
Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to build simple, decent homes in partnership with God’s people in need. Bradbury’s mission is to touch lives through God’s unconditional love and grace.
Visit www.roanehabitat.org for more about the local chapter, and call 376-2990 for more about the church.