Students fix local homes

Darden teams up with non-profit foundation to conduct service project

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About 300 business students, volunteers and contractors helped refurbish 16 homes in the Charlottesville community Saturday. The effort was part of Build Day, a community service initiative sponsored by the Darden School. Every April, the non-profit Building Goodness Foundation teams up with University students to refurbish and repair houses in the Charlottesville and Albemarle County areas.

"It's a Darden student-run organization," Build Day Assistant Director Robert Murphy said. "And every April we go out to the Charlottesville community and work on 10 to 14 houses and do minor repairs and home improvements that can all be done in one day."

Build Day Media Director Paul Soper said the number of houses the students refurbished was up from 13 or 14 last year to 16 this year.

Building Goodness was started by a group of contractors who originally went to Haiti to help refurbish homes, Murphy said.

"We work in concert with [the contractors]. They provide high level guidance," Murphy said, adding that the contractors work pro bono, providing their time, skills and tools.

Houses are selected for repair based on three criteria: income guidelines, disability of the patients and the ability to complete the project in one day, Muprhy said. Participation in Build Day marks a shift for Darden, as students wanted a to make more of a local impact as opposed to working with a national organization, Murphy said, adding that the endeavor was a success.

"It is our biggest and largest charitable initiative at Darden," he said. "We have an auction in the fall and raised over $60,000 from students and faculty. Everyone pulls together and raises the money and then everyone participates. It is a really great way to bring the school together."

Soper expressed similar sentiments about the rewards of the event.

"I got to meet a couple of the families," Soper said. "It was just amazing how much this effort actually meant to them. Just the chance to have some people come in and help them out"

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