As the morning sun warmed the Habitat for Humanity work site, Reba Carroll stood next to saw horses and strips of white vinyl siding, and thought about college rivalries.

The Citadel, the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University — you hear a lot about the area’s rivalries, “especially basketball,” said Carroll, 19, a sophomore studying psychology at the College of Charleston. “But if you could unite them all, you could get a lot done.”

That happened Monday as local college students spent the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday serving the homeless in downtown Charleston, building homes for the needy on James Island and doing other volunteer work.

At least 36,000 students attend colleges and universities in the Charleston metro area. “Sometimes there’s a stigma when you see a group of cadets out at a party, or the same is true when cadets see some C of C students,” said McDavid Stoddard, 21, a junior at the College of Charleston.

But Stoddard said working with other students was one of the draws of volunteering Monday at a Habitat for Humanity site on James Island.Surrounded by about 20 other students and Habitat for Humanity workers, Stoddard and two Citadel sophomores, Caleb Arp, 19, and Oliver Pinnock, 20, cut sheets of siding next to one of nine new homes being built off Fort Johnson Drive.

“Let’s see how this goes,” Stoddard said after Arp made notches in the vinyl. Arp then slipped the strip over the window, “I think it works,” he said with a laugh, and Pinnock added: “By the grace of God.”

At Crisis Ministries on Meeting Street, students rolled silverware, chopped apples, peeled boiled eggs and cooked beans and hotdogs.

“We just wanted them to serve the community and help others,” said Brittany Pack, the campus service learning coordinator for Charleston Southern University who helped organize the event. “No matter where you volunteer, it’s always a humbling experience.”

During idle time, students chatted about their own schools’ cafeteria food and where the shelter was in relation to their colleges.

Mark Pierce, a senior at The Citadel, had never been to Crisis Ministries and had no idea it was less than a two miles from the school. He appreciated the chance to meet other area students and work together for a good cause. “We can live in a bubble, if we’re not careful,” he said. “It’s nice to get off campus and help people.”

Their service was one way Americans nationwide commemorated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which has been designated by Congress as a national day of service.

In addition to Crisis Ministries and Habitat for Humanity, another group volunteered at the Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Orangeburg.

At the Habitat for Humanity site, Tiffany Hartnett, 21, a junior at Charleston Southern, also said she enjoyed meeting people from other schools. “I had the day off because of the holiday and thought it would be a good idea to do something for someone,” she said, helping two College of Charleston students put up sheets of siding. “There’s no rivalry here. We’ve bonded together real well.”