Playhouses for kids. It doesn’t seem like much, but the families who received the buildings thought otherwise.
Several students participated in the building project for children of military families August 27 through October 1, and the impact it had was enormous.
Assistant Director of Campus Activities Jeff Sutton explained the purpose behind the project.
“We wanted to do it for military families because of our proximity to Fort Hood, and so many people are connected to people in the military,” he said. “It’s just another way that we can show our appreciation to them for what they do.”
The project also gave students a way to be active while giving back.
“It’s just a cool project that gets us outside, gets us doing something that we don’t typically do, and it’s a huge thing to thank the military families,” Sutton said.
While Student Life hosted the building project, each individual house was sponsored by a different organization.
Some of the organizations were the Resident Assistants, Residence Hall Association, Campus Activities Board, Ministry Leadership Council, Student Government Association, First Year Council, Faculty and Staff and Cru for Life.
The response from the families has been immense gratitude and appreciation.
“Just in talking to some of the families, some of them cried. It’s just been that ‘Why me?’ kind of thing,” Sutton said.
Freshman political science major Abby Criswell was one of the students who worked.
She was part of the construction team for the SGA playhouse.
She said, “First there was this huge box that had all these different pieces in it, and we had to separate them … so we built the frame and worked from there.”
Criswell was happy to help bring joy to children whose lives are affected by being a part of the military.
“Their families are off, and we can help these kids by creating their imagination and letting them play,” she said.
Constance Sundeen, a sophomore exercise and sports science major and ROTC cadet, was thrilled when she was informed that her children would be receiving one of the playhouses.
Sundeen said, “You don’t see people really doing things for people anymore, and I just think it’s wonderful.”
She was also impressed by the students who gave of their time to build a house and paint it with her children. Her two boys, ages 3 and 4, had been asking about the houses ever since she first told them.
“They’re probably way younger than me, and they don’t have children. They just don’t understand how wonderful this is,” Sundeen said.
Junior sports management major Tim Trimble was another student who helped. He worked with the Cru for Life team to build and paint the building the organization sponsored.
This year the project was in conjunction with Reaching Out.
Three teams delivered the houses to the family’s homes on Saturday morning as a part of the annual service day. Trimble was on one of those teams.
“It’s a great volunteer opportunity. I’ve always had to work on the day of Reaching Out, and this year I actually had a chance to actually do it, and this was kind of part of it,” he said.
Trimble’s favorite part of the volunteer experience was delivering the house to the family’s home on Saturday morning.
Sutton said the reaction from the families shows the impact the project had on them, “The excitement that someone’s willing to do something for them – it’s huge.”