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2009.10.05 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

UNO Students Work with Habitat for Humanity to Help Build Homes

Omaha - University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) students will spend their fall break working as Santa’s elves, but not at the North Pole. The students will be refurbishing Santa’s Village, a replica of the mythical North Pole settlement near Macedonia, Iowa.

The students are among hundreds from UNO who will work with area high school students Oct. 17, 19 and 20 to not only help at Santa’s Village, but also to renovate homes for low income families in Omaha and Council Bluffs.

The project, known as Three Days of Service, allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to address community problems and issues, as well as develop a sense of civic responsibility for their community.

Kathe Oleson Lyons, assistant director of UNO’s Service Learning Academy, said the UNO volunteers are teaming up with students from North High School in Omaha, Lewis Central High School in Council Bluffs and Carson-Macedonia High School in Carson, Iowa to complete the projects.

“Three Days of Service is one of the ways UNO stresses the importance of community engagement,” Lyons said. “Students learn to work with others and they learn about issues, like homelessness and poverty. These are key concepts that the students are able to take with them after the project is over.”

Lyons said UNO has sponsored service-learning projects, such as Three Days of Service, since 2003. During that time, students have volunteered approximately $750,000 in labor. Lyons estimates that students this academic year will donate $1 million worth of work hours during Three Days of Service and another community engagement project in the spring.

The student volunteers will work on Habitat for Humanity homes in north and south Omaha and in Council Bluffs. The students will undertake various construction projects at Santa’s Village, a nonprofit attraction that offers programs to supports children in crisis.

Santa’s Village operates programs for children, such as, organizing Santa visits to hospitals in Nebraska and Iowa throughout the year. The organization also brings hundreds of children to the Village each year to see Santa and winter wonderland that is on display.

Lyons said several local businesses are providing support for Three Days of Service. Those businesses include Cox Communications, Proforma, Red Zone BBQ, Justin Thyme Cafe and Catering.

For more information about this and other service-learning activities sponsored by UNO, visit www.unomah.edu/servicelearning.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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