SEA BRIGHT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of college students are trading in their suntan lotion for shovels this spring break to help the Jersey Shore rebuild in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Students have been removing debris, painting homes and doing anything they can to help hard-hit communities recover from the storm.

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“We figured that if we’re here, we’re doing nothing, we might as well help out in the community,” Rutgers University senior Mark Wayne told 1010 WINS. “Currently we’re in Sea Bright and we’re going to be digging on the beach. So, on the bright side we will still be on the beach, just not in Cancun.”

Wayne said he felt obliged to help fellow New Jerseyans.

“During Sandy, all of us were hit hard and the shore was hit harder than most so we figured that we could help out — Jerseyan to Jerseyan,” Wayne said. “It’s part of a state pride thing.”

Drexel University student Ava Akolnik said she has done volunteer work before, but feels a stronger connection to this effort.

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“I definitely have a different perspective going into this service project than I have in the past because, although not personally affected, I have a lot of friends that have houses in the Jersey Shore that were affected,” Akolnik said. “There’s definitely a different connection to this service trip.”

More than 500 out-of-state students are also lending a helping hand, coming from as far as Iowa, Colorado and Georgia.

The cast of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” will reunite this weekend to thank the student volunteers.

Their appearance comes during a “Spring Fix” benefit concert coinciding with the reopening of Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson on Saturday.

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