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Student Resident Assistants from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on Saturday will celebrate the dedication of a house they built with their bare hands.

More than 100 UT students contributed more than 800 volunteer hours over the course of five Saturdays in February and March to build the 1,496-square foot house in northwest Knoxville. The home features five bedrooms and two bathrooms.

This is the ninth house built by UT Resident Assistants (RAs), in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity since 1996. The program, called Housing for Housing, is coordinated by the Department of University Housing. Student volunteers are guided through the building process by experienced Habitat for Humanity supervisors. On the first day of building, called “Blitz Day,” students are met by only a slab of concrete and piles of building supplies. By the end of the Blitz Day, walls and trusses were in place, and there was wood on the roof.

[flowplayer video=”mp4:UT_Habitat_for_Humanity” width=”480″ height=”295″ captions=”” splash=”” /]

“The RAs raise money each fall semester and in the beginning we built a house each year,” said Jerry Adams, associate director of university housing. “Starting in the spring of 2000 we have built a house every other year.”

RAs also are responsible for recruiting other student volunteers.

“We had the RAs sign up first and then get them to sign up residents,” said Rachel Edington, resident director at Humes Hall. “They’re wanting to get involved, they’re asking questions. They’re the ones sending e-mails to me saying ‘Hey are there still spots available? I’d love to help out.’ They make the process a lot easier.”

Edington said it’s not unusual for there to be a waiting list for volunteers, as the project only consists of five work days. And those work days start early.

“To wake up at 7 a.m. to do this, any other time I might not go,” said Robert Melvin, resident assistant at North Carrick Hall. “But I jump up to wake up for this. It’s just a lot of fun. Really makes me feel good to come out in whatever kind of weather it is and help this family out.”

In the featured video, volunteers are sporting “Volunteers Rock the World!” t-shirts. “Volunteers Rock the World!” is part of the Ready for the World Initiative and aims to highlight members of the UT Knoxville family who are lending a hand at home or in communities around the globe. To learn more about “Volunteers Rock the World!” and Ready for the World, visit