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Airmen build, repair houses at North Pole

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNS) -- Eielson volunteers donned hard-hats and wielded construction equipment recently to help build housing for local Alaskans through the nonprofit program Habitat for Humanity.

Members from the 354th Contracting Squadron volunteered with the program, which operates on a global scale to build houses for low-income families.

"Too often in contracting, we write contracts which support other people and organizations, but we don't get to see the direct fruits of our labor," said 2nd Lt. Kazden Ikehara, 354th Contracting Squadron flight commander of plans and programs. "This presents us with the chance to see the direct impact of our work."

In this particular project, workers repaired an old home and constructed a completely new one simultaneously in North Pole, Alaska. After working on the new home for a month, Habitat for Humanity volunteers saw the results of their effort quickly paying off as they erected the walls, roof and interior set-up.

In addition to helping members of the community, volunteers get exposure to a trade and skills they may never have considered, like building a foundation for a house, said Airman 1st Class Mark Wheeler, 354th CS contracting specialist. "This is my first time participating on this scale. I love it; I get to learn new trade skills while I help people in need."

The time spent helping others will have the same effect on the volunteers as the house owners, said Wheeler. Both parties will experience the good-natured side of members of their community by seeing how helpful other people are, how great it feels to help and know that people have your back even in times of need.

"This is my first time participating in a Habitat for Humanity volunteer opportunity," said Ikehara. "We've met the families who will be occupying the houses we are building and repairing. They constantly express immense gratitude for our help and I can't help but feel fortunate just to have been given this opportunity to help others."

Members of the 354th Force Support Squadron and 354th Civil Engineer Squadron have also volunteered with the program.

By sharing their time to give to people they may never have met before, Habitat for Humanity volunteers have enhanced the lives of others in a way that can be appreciated by both the home recipient and volunteers.

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