FROSTBURG — Thirty-seven Frostburg State University students will be among those headed for spring break next week, but their destination includes homes, hope and hammers rather than beaches, bikinis and beers.
Under the guidance of Patrick O'Brien, the university's director of civic engagement, the baker's three-dozen students will be in a bus on the way to Wall Township, N.J., where they will continue repairing homes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Some of them, such as Justin Smith, Brandy Fender and Gabrielle Atwell, have been there before. They've done that.
Fender, from St. Mary's County, will be making a third trip to the Jersey Shore where the group will put up dry wall, paint and do whatever else is needed to make homes inhabitable once more.
"It's great to be able to work with the people in that community, to see them appreciate what's being done," Fender said.
Atwell, also from St. Mary's County, will be making her second trip as an FSU student. She calls it an awesome experience that is "better than just lying on the beach."
The students will be with others, including some from Alaska, who will stay at Camp Evans, a former military base.
"There will be about 80 students in all," O'Brien said. "They help a lot of people whose insurance policies wouldn't cover everything that needed done. When we went there two years ago almost every home had a camper parked outside and that's what the families were living in."
Sometimes, demolition is involved.
"We tore down a porch," Atwell said. She also spent a lot of time installing new insulation.
Smith, from Baltimore, said he feels good about helping others who need assistance. The students don't do it for college credits. They just do it.
O'Brien told the group during a Friday afternoon meeting on campus at the Lane Center to be prepared for all kinds of weather.
The forecast is for rain on Monday and some showers on Tuesday, but improves for the remainder of the week, he announced.
The students will leave Frostburg on Sunday and return the following weekend.
In between, they will be seriously civically engaged.