At Habitat for Humanity New York City, we host thousands of volunteers each year to build and preserve affordable housing throughout the five boroughs. However, volunteers on our construction and preservation projects must be at least 14 years old. But, we believe that children under 14 can build a better city, and that it is never too early to engage the next generation of New Yorkers in meaningful community service that will shape the future.

On Sunday, April 29th, Habitat NYC invited the children of New York City to use their imaginations and work together for a special LEGO Build event. These “little builders,” ages five to 12, worked in teams to build their own LEGO version of a Habitat NYC model home.

This LEGO Build was a fun, interactive way for children to engage in community service and learn about the importance of a decent, stable home while competing for great prizes. More than 75 local children participated in a friendly competition for best LEGO home.  Children ages five to seven competed for the Creativity Award, the eight to 10 year olds competed for the Design Award and the 11 to 12 year olds competed for the Sustainability Award. Each child walked away with a certificate of participation and a goodie bag filled with LEGO and Habitat NYC treats.

Taking place in the center of the Oculus, one of the most iconic modern New York City structures, the excitement of the children raised money and awareness for affordable homeownership in their own communities.

“Affordable homeownership and the stability that provides impacts every member of a family, no matter how young. At Habitat for Humanity New York City, we see affordable housing as a long-term investment that will build a better city for our children,” said Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat NYC. “It was amazing to see these ‘little builders’ so engaged with the mission and become the future advocates for affordable housing.”

“Children are the future. As a parent, it is so important to me that my son gain an understanding of the concept of design – and that’s what today is about,” said Damon Marshall, who was in attendance with his 7 year old son, Mandela. “It’s also special to me that Mandela can learn more about Habitat NYC’s work. The mission is so important – providing a sanctuary to those who need it most. I can’t think of anything more selfless.”

Said Micah Hunter, who attended the LEGO Build with his children and is a Habitat NYC homebuyer, “It’s a great time to be with the family and see the good work of Habitat NYC. That combination – couldn’t ask for anything better on a Sunday afternoon.”

You can see more photos from the event in our Facebook album.