Four Goshen College students on spring break didn't wake up anywhere near a beach Thursday morning, Feb. 27.
They woke up with plans to go build a house, and a subzero wind chill wasn't going to stop them.
Elizabeth Franks-North, Sam Foxvog, Jacob Putnam and Isaac Fast volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County for the entire day Thursday — installing insulation and hanging drywall in a house that will eventually be occupied by a family with three young children.
The weather was rough, and the kids could see their breath even inside the house. But on a morning that started with most area schools calling two-hour delays, these four students were awake early and raring to go.
"When I woke up, I didn't think 'Oh crap,'" Fast, a junior, said. "I was thinking, well, better bundle up."
Molly Prime, volunteer coordinator for Habitat, said the Elkhart County affiliate sometimes attracts the attention of the national organization because its volunteers work year-round, even through the snow. The house the students were working on Thursday is about two weeks behind schedule though, because the brutal winter has caused delays for even Elkhart County's hardiest Habitat volunteers.
Prime had originally planned for the students to hang siding on the outside of the house Thursday, but the weather advisory forced her to come up with indoor tasks instead.
She kept the volunteers safe by providing hats and headbands, extra gloves, and snacks. There was also a kerosene heater to "take the edge off" the cold, she said.
One of the students said they only felt the heater's warmth when they stood directly in front of it. Since they were there to work and not to stand, the heater was put to better use — defrosting a container of orange juice, which was frozen solid.
Franks-North, who has built houses before on missions trips, said she enjoys the work because "it's a very concrete way to give back."
Besides, she added, if she wasn't cutting drywall in the Habitat house she would just be sleeping in.
About 30 Goshen College students worked on the house over the break starting Monday, Feb. 24, and ending Friday, Feb. 28.