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Habitat dedicates final home to tornado victims

GIFFORD -- The town is looking a little more whole as Champaign County Habitat for Humanity finishes three homes.
GIFFORD – The town is looking a little more whole as Champaign County Habitat for Humanity finishes three homes. WCIA-3 Lindsey Gordon has the story.

Saturday, Habitat dedicated the last house from the Gifford Build Blitz. They helped families who’d lost their homes after November’s tornadoes tore through the town.

The last house is for the Calhoun family. In about a week, it will be ready for them to move in.

"We had people from all over the U.S. come to help build throughout the first two weeks. Then we've had people from the Paxton area. We've had people take off work," said Habitat executive director Sheila Dodd.

It’s taken thousands of volunteer hours to rebuild the Calhoun family’s home.

"Fifty-percent of Gifford was impacted, so it's nice to see the amount of people coming together and being able to help this community rebuild," said Dodd.

Ben Calhoun remembers that day in November when the tornado struck.

"The siren went off, the pressure in the house changed and my ears popped and that's when I knew," he said.

They quickly took shelter and no one was hurt. Since they lost their home, they’ve been staying in an apartment in Rantoul.

They were encouraged by a friend to apply for Habitat’s help in April. They were hesitant because they thought other people may need the help more.

"She said that ‘We've got hundreds of people that want to come and help, but nobody is stepping up and saying can you help me?'" said Christy Calhoun.

The house is going to be just in time. The family is expecting a baby girl in the fall. The Calhouns also have a 14-year old son, Jacob.

They say being home again means everything.

"It's where we feel we belong. It's where we want to be. It's a great town to raise a family in," said Ben Calhoun.

Habitat says they give a hand-up, not a hand-out. The family will be purchasing the home.

Volunteers and donations keep the home more affordable. Christy and Ben each contributed 250 hours of sweat equity to help with the rebuild.
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