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story.lead_photo.caption A group representing Bank OZK frame part of a new Habitat for Humanity House on Watt Street during the 2019 Heels to Hammer build. - File photo by Grace Brown of The Sentinel-Record

After a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, Garland County Habitat for Humanity's annual Heels to Hammers event will hold its groundbreaking on Tuesday, with the five-day build set for September.

Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit housing organization that assists families in need of affordable housing, hosts an annual Heels to Hammers event where local women volunteer to help build the homes. This year, participants will build two homes at 222 and 226 Eddiemee St.

The groundbreaking will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday at 222 Eddiemee.

People can register for the event for $25 Wednesday through July 31 and for $35 from Aug. 1-23. Those interested in participating can visit https://www.garlandcountyhabitat.org.

This will be the sixth Heels to Hammers build, Courtney Post, GCHFH public relations coordinator, said, noting 40 women will participate each day of the project with 20 volunteers at each house per day. Over the course of the event, they "typically have over 200 people show up," she said.

Explaining the goal of the event, Post said, "A lot of women want to help, but can be intimidated" and Heels to Hammers allows these interested women to "see what it is like."

"We take all skill levels. A lot of women come with no experience," she said.

The build quickly became popular, she said, noting it "started with one house, but the demand of volunteers" led them to make two houses during the project. "We were running out of things for volunteers to do," she said.

"I think they have a ball," Post said about the atmosphere during the build. "There's a lot of camaraderie. I don't think it would be a success if they didn't have fun. Registration fills up every year."

The build will take place from Sept. 15 to 19. Post said once the women are finished, it will be "about four to six months" before the families are able to move into them. During this time, things such as the inside of the building and the roof will be worked on.

Post said all the women who participate will be invited back for the dedication when the keys to the homes are given to the families.

Heels to Hammers was supposed to start in May, but it was delayed due to COVID-19. Post said, "The health and well-being of our construction crew, our volunteers and future homeowners are our highest priority."

She noted many of the things that volunteers already do at the build happen to be related to safety guidelines for the coronavirus. "Since the event takes place on a job site, we encourage the use of protective equipment such as eye wear, gloves and masks," she said.

"Our event is unique in that we are able to offer our participants a safe, outdoor environment with the ability to social distance," Post said.

Heels to Hammers is being sponsored by Window Mart, Lowe's Home Improvement and Sam's Club.

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