Published on December 5, 2018 by Sarah Cain  

A record number of Samford students, staff and faculty volunteered at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham’s annual “Home for the Holidays.”

The event is a collaboration between Habitat and Birmingham’s ABC television affiliate and 20 corporate sponsors who build houses for two deserving families in 10 days as a Christmas gift. Samford is the only corporate sponsor to have participated all 15 years.

“Home for the Holidays has become a holiday tradition in the community and we look forward to it as much as our partners,” said Charles Moore, President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham. “Samford University has participated in Home for the Holidays each year since it began 15 years ago. It’s a great testament to their willingness to dig in, get dirty and lift others up. They’ve played a significant role in offering 21 deserving families an opportunity to purchase a new home and move in just time for Christmas.” 

Forty-three volunteers ­— 25 students, 18 faculty and staff — participated in the Samford build day on Dec. 1. Samford’s participation was coordinated by the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership and the Division of Marketing and Communication.

“University community partnerships must be long-term and mutually beneficial in order to create a positive impact. I’m so pleased that this long-standing effort between Habitat and the university yielded more than 40 students, faculty and staff who worked alongside community members, skilled workers and future homeowners,” Allison Nanni, director of community engagement for The Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, said. “We all learned some new skills together and got to know one another while working to produce affordable housing. That’s a win-win for everyone!”

Samford Director of Grounds, Joe Collins, is a long-time “Home for the Holidays” volunteer and brought his daughter along to this year’s build. 

“I really love helping Habitat for Humanity. I’ve done this a few times and I’ve done just about every task out here over that time,” he said.

Abigail Tanko, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, joined the build for the first time.

“I wanted to volunteer because not only is it in the Christmas spirit, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to help those who otherwise wouldn’t have a house to go home to,” she said. “I love that I can actually see the product from the labor we’re putting in.” 

Samford volunteers helped to install interior framing, siding and install windows. Professor and Chair of Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Morgan Ponder, has volunteered at the build for multiple years and enjoys learning along the way. 

“I like working with my hands and every time I come out it seems like I learn something new,” he said. “It’s always fascinating to me how they put something like this together.” 

The homes will go to Jillian Gray and Gabrielle Herren, both Birmingham natives.

The two houses will be dedicated Dec. 14 and then turned over to the new homeowners.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.