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Connetquot's Habitat Club raises money, walls for home
Connetquot High School students in hard hats and orange construction aprons lined up Wednesday morning and picked up planks that were nailed together to form a wall.
After raising more than $11,000 to donate to Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, the high school’s Habitat Club was chosen to be the wall raisers of a new house in Central Islip.
“Helping out another family is the greatest gift of all,” said junior Tyler Robinson, president of the Habitat Club, said. “Your impact can benefit them.”
The house on Cocoanut Street will go to Andrew Arevalo, 22, his sister, Cassandra Arevalo, 21, and their mother, Maria Quezada, 44. The siblings have been living in an apartment in a single-family home in Freeport with their mother to take care of her because of a disability.
“My sister and I had to sacrifice a lot,” Andrew said, adding that he and his sister dropped out of high school and started working to help her. “This will be able to fix our situation.”
Connetquot’s students raised the money through a 5-kilometer run they did last December called the Santa Fun Run.
“It was a huge turnout,” junior Jessica Caulfield, vice president of the Habitat Club, said. “I didn’t expect half of the money.”
Caulfield is volunteering because she's very close to someone who was once in need of a home.
“My dad lost his house in Hurricane Betsy in New Orleans,” Caulfield said of the 1965 storm. “It feels great to give back. They don’t have to go through what he did.”
Twenty students from the club’s 150 members will be on the new home site through Friday. Other high schools from the area will then continue to build the house.
In order to participate, high schools need to raise a minimum of $1,000, said Kathy Schaefer, director of partnerships at Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk.
Connetquot is one of few schools on Long Island with a Habitat Club, Schaefer said. The rest donate through their Key Clubs or other volunteer groups.
“It makes us feel really good,” Schaefer said of the students pitching in. “Kids need to know why affordable housing is so important to Long Island.”
Photo: Jessica Caulfield, vice president of the Habitat Club at Connetquot High School, helped raise more than $11,000 with her fellow students for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County. The club was rewarded by getting to raise the walls on the Central Islip home. (Feb. 8, 2012)