LAWRENCEVILLE -- As students arrived at Georgia Gwinnett College's new residence halls Wednesday, a team wearing "Operation Move In" T-shirts stood by, ready to descend upon the vehicles.
Within minutes of arrival, the cars were unpacked, with students' belongings transferred to carts ready to be rolled to their rooms.
"It took me and my mom four hours to load the car," said Stockbridge resident Chantelle Murray, a college sophomore. "It took them two minutes to unload it. They swarmed the car. They were overwhelmingly helpful."
The valet unloading service -- provided by Georgia Gwinnett College faculty, staff and students and community members from organizations including the Lawrenceville Rotary Club and 12 Stone Church -- was designed to make the move-in process easier for students and their families.
"We wanted to make this a memorable experience for families by providing as much help and support as possible," GGC President Daniel Kaufman said. "Sending a child away to college is stressful enough. We tried to lighten the load, quite literally, so families could enjoy this special milestone in their lives."
Cem "Jim" Rende, a freshman from Atlanta, said moving into the dorms was stressful and tiring, but also exciting. He said the valet service made him feel welcome.
"You don't feel like you're in this big school," he said.
Georgia Gwinnett College has grown significantly since it opened in 2006, but it's still smaller than many other institutions in the University System of Georgia.
The opening of the new residence halls marks another milestone in the history of the young college.
"This is a great day for Georgia Gwinnett College. We are now officially a 24/7, residential campus," Kaufman said. "We have spent months planning for this day, and now that it is here, I can say that the campus is truly a more vibrant and exciting place. I look forward to experiencing the transformation as these first resident students help establish the character of campus life at GGC."
Megan Lynch, a junior who works as a resident assistant, said she thinks the dorms will create a sense of community on campus.
"People will be brought together in unity," she said.
More than 400 students will live on campus this fall. About half moved in Wednesday, and the other half will move in today.
The housing complex required $102 million in bonds, provided by a public/private partnership with the Georgia Gwinnett College Foundation. The bonds will be repaid by student fees.
More than 5,000 students are expected to be enrolled when classes begin Monday. Of these, up to 1,029 may be housed in the residence halls, which total 416,000 square feet.
The buildings contains suites of two to 12 private bedrooms and shared living and kitchen space. Each suite has a refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, substantial cabinet and pantry space, and a 46-inch, wall-mounted, flat-screen Sony TV.
Applications are still being received for rooms. As the college continues to grow, plans call for a parking deck for student residents, followed by additional residence halls.