Exactly one week after they left Chicago for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, a group of students has returned home just in time to celebrate Easter with their families and Portage Park church.
Student Izzy Ocampo said the experience was life changing.
“You come here and you have everything,” she said. “Here we are with our phones worrying about ‘Snapchat this, Facebook that,’ and here they are wondering, ‘When am I going to get light again?'”
This was no ordinary spring break trip: these students were on a mission to help those in need, doing everything from painting houses to visiting seniors in their homes.
Faith Ramos, from Storehouse Church, said the students assembled what they called “God bags,” filled with supplies that people would need.
“We went out to homeless people and gave them to them and they were so happy just to have someone to talk to,” Ramos said.
“We went to someone’s house in a retirement home and she wanted us to sing for her because she didn’t get a lot of company. And she seemed really happy, she kept laughing,” added Caleb Ramos, another participant on the trip.
Exhausted as they are, tomorrow it’s back to school. Though student Carlos Morales said the biggest lesson he’s learned isn’t from a classroom, but from the group’s time in Puerto Rico.
“The biggest thing that changed me is that we were there to help them, but in reality they were also helping us,” he said.
The students recognize that there is still much work to be done, and every single one said they plan to return to the island during summer break. They hope to recruit even more people to come along with them.