A sea of students showing off their Gamecock pride gathered on Saturday's chilly morning to register for Service Saturday. The gameday excitement was juxtaposed with eagerness to serve the community.
A group of 25 USC students in particular volunteered with the Habitat for Humanity: ReStore to help with store upkeep and moving furniture.
“I did the last one and it was pretty fun,” said Alex Braz, first-year international business student. “I felt like it was a more productive use of my time than sleeping.”
The ReStore was founded in order to fund Habitat for Humanity projects in the community and has now become the nonprofit organization’s main source of income.
“It's 94 to 96 cents on the dollar nonprofit,” said ReStore operations manager Mike Vinson. “We keep four to six cents out of every dollar.”
The group spent the day moving and cleaning furniture, arranging the store and pricing items.
“We’re required to have 10 community service hours for our U101 class, and I think that Habitat for Humanity would be a good thing to do," said first-year broadcast journalism student Zach McKinstry. "I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but it’s pretty nice so far,”
Habitat for Humanity regularly involves students through USC Service Saturday and other community service opportunities. The organization's national brand is a draw for many.
“We have a Habitat Humanity back home, so I think it would be cool to get involved in one in Columbia,” McKinstry said.
The ReStore is staffed mostly by volunteers, and all of the merchandise is donated from local businesses or members of the community. Many college students choose to shop at the ReStore as a way to furnish their apartments for less, and then donate all of their furniture to the store when the semester is over to continue the cycle.
“Habitat for Humanity would not exist if it was not for the community getting involved,” Vinson said.
The organization is based in Christianity and makes an effort to help families find affordable ways to furnish their homes and goes out to build new homes for families who have nothing. The Service Saturday students were able to get a glimpse of how Habitat for Humanity embodies the Mother Teresa quote, “Do small things with great love,” which is written on a wall of the ReStore.
“You may be made to come here by school," Vinson said in his final speech to the group. "You may be made to come here by military. You may be made to come here by your parents," he continued. "Y’all came in, y'all got everything done ... It’s in your heart how hard you work or how much you want to accomplish."