"It is a beautiful day to work outside," someone shouts through the pinging of hammers, hitting nails and the whining, grinding sounds of the circular saw as it cuts through the wood.

The saw and hammers are being used by nineteen Soldiers assigned to the 50th Signal Battalion (Expeditionary), 35th Signal Brigade, who volunteered Oct 16, 2012 in Aberdeen, N.C., to construct and raise the walls of a house being built for the Habitat for Humanity Project.

"One day Lt. Col. Chris O'Conner, along with his wife and son, came out to volunteer for a day," said Judie Wiggins, a volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. "He informed us he was the commander for 50th ESB and thought his Soldiers would like to do some Volunteer work."

"A perfect way for us to give back to the community," said Lt. Col. Chris O'Connor, commander of 50th ESB. "The great thing about habitat for humanity is that you are building homes with the people who are going to live there and you can see it in their eyes. The pride and gratification they feel is tremendous.

This is the third time Soldiers from the 50th ESB have volunteered with our organization. Today they are helping us to build house 208 for the Thomas family. The house will be a five bedroom and two bath home designed to meet the specific needs of the Thomas family, said Wiggins.

"I don't get many chances to do carpentry," said 1st Lt. Jared C. Long, 1st platoon leader for B Co., "I enjoy coming out here and having a chance to do some carpentry work with the troops."

Wiggins explained The Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills is currently working on building a subdivision of 22 homes to provide an opportunity for homeownership to families who can't afford a conventional bank loan for a home and who have a need for adequate affordable shelter. So far, they have built 210 homes in the Sandhills area and only had to do foreclosures on four homes; the foreclosures were completely refurbished and resold.

For a family to qualify for a home they must have a need for affordable, safe housing, and six good faith hours of hard work to prove they can physically help in the construction of their home. Then they are obligated to complete 15 hours of Homebuyer Education Workshops, have the ability to pay for the habitat home, and a willingness to partner with habitat for humanity and the community, said Wiggins.

"I like to volunteer because it is good for the community and is good citizenship," said Markia Childers, fiancée to Sgt. Daniel Lewis. "I can imagine the feeling of the family walking into the new home for the first time and how their eyes would light up with joy."
The new homeowners are also required to contribute 300 sweat equity hours per each adult family member and 60 sweat equity hours for each teen in the building of their own home.

"I love it when Soldiers come out. They are younger, physically fit, and get things done faster than most," said Dan Aaron, a retired Colonel, now works as a crew chief on site and a board of directors member for Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills.

For more information on how to volunteer or apply for a home please call 910-295-1934 or view the website at http://www.sandhillshabitat.org.