W&L Habitat for Humanity group receives $5,000 boost

State Farm gives grant to build more homes

Alison Murtagh

Washington and Lee’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity recently received a $5,000 grant from State Farm. The money will be donated to help pay for building houses in the Rockbridge area.

W&L’s chapter hosted a charity basketball tournament in Doremus Gym to raise money. According to co-chair of the chapter, Brodie Chittum, ‘16, State Farm agents attended the tournament.

“We had two State Farm agents come and present the grant, with a giant check,” Chittum said.

Organizations cannot apply for the grant every year. W&L was not able to submit an application last year, but the chapter won a grant from the agency two years ago. The university is one of more than 30 organizations to receive a grant from the agency this year. The grant encourages youth to participate in their local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

“Our primary goal is mainly fundraising for the Rockbridge Affiliate,” Chittum said. “We try to raise as much money as possible, mainly from the W&L community, to help pay for the construction of houses.”

Bennett Henson, ’16, first became involved with Habitat for Humanity while in high school in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He joined the W&L chapter his sophomore year, and is currently co-chair of the chapter. In high school, Henson helped more with the building of houses, as opposed to the financial aspect.

“Here, […] we are raising the funds and then donating that to the Rockbridge area chapter, who then, they go out and build,” Henson said.

In December, the members submitted an online application to State Farm, who awarded matching grants to the winning organizations. According to Chittum, in order to receive the grant, the group had to show that they would be able to match the money donated.

The majority of this money came from the 55 families that participated in  Habitat Hotel.

“That basically involves students, and residents of Rockbridge County, hosting parents, kind of like a Bed and Breakfast for Parent’s weekend,” Chittum said. “Parents pay the same amount they would pay for a hotel, but it all gets donated to Habitat.”

Last year, the chapter raised money with the use of a dunk-tank. They are planning to implement the fundraiser again in the coming weeks.

“We set it up right outside of commons, and try to get professors and administrators to sit in it,” Chittum said. “So, when students are walking to the library during finals, they can get a little payback.”

But right now the group is trying to get more involved with  the hands-on aspect of Habitat.

“We’re in the process of organizing a build day because we do believe that’s an important part of the process—having students gain that hands on exposure to the homelessness in Rockbridge and the need for affordable housing,” Henson said.

Kip Diggs serves as the media specialist for State Farm. According to Diggs in a recent email, State Farm is the official corporate sponsor of Habitat for Humanity’s International Youth Programs.

“The sponsorship commitment helps youth throughout the United States become more engaged in their communities, and ultimately helps build more homes for families in need,” Diggs wrote. “When people have invested in a home, they are putting down roots and are intimately interested in what is going on.”