Grade 9 students are lending their service to the community.
The Vernon Christian School (VCS) students started fundraising early for their upcoming Grade 9 mission trip to Mexico by helping local residents with their sandbag removal and yard clean-up.
Don Defeo, ReMax Vernon realtor and fundraising coordinator for the trip, said the students will be heading to Phoenix for a church function before travelling to Puerto Peñasco to build a house in three days for the less-fortunate.
“Fundraising usually starts when school’s in, but we’re starting this one early because there is a need for help,” said Defeo.
He said many of the available students have been showing up to lend their service daily from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Their goal is to raise $250 per student, but they understand some people are unable to donate and are still willing to lend their group’s service.
“If they can’t afford anything, we’ll still do it,” said Defeo.
To Defeo, the sandbag clean-up is a three-part goal of getting the kids to raise money, to give back to the community and to become united together.
Dave Lowry, who had close to 4,000 sandbags on and around his property, said the Grade 9 crew did a fabulous job with helping him haul away the sandbags.
“They were truly a godsend to me,” said Lowry.
He has worked hard on trying to get his property cleaned up after flood water seeped into his yard and cabin.
Lowry said he was thrilled when Defeo and his wife showed up on paddleboards one day and told him they were thinking about helping residents with their clean-up as a fundraiser.
“I said, ‘I want to be your first customer,’” he said.
He said the students made such a huge difference for him that giving them a donation toward their mission trip was easy.
“To go down to build a house for some unfortunates, what a wonderful thing for them to do,” said Lowry.
Adam Harris, building manager for the house next door to Lowry’s, said the kids helped with about five loads of sandbags on his side of the fence, too.
He thinks it’s a win-win situation because the mission trip is a great cause to donate to, and it also helps him out.
“This would take me weeks to do, but with help like this, it will take me less than half the time,” said Harris.
The students work hard under the sun, and Defeo said they play out on the lake on their off time for some cool-down fun.
“We’ve got a flyboard that we’ve been out on,” said Defeo.
They have kept a positive attitude, according to their customers, and don’t mind working hard and long hours.
“This community work prepares us mentally and physically with hands-on experience for our mission trip,” said Grade 9 VCS student Olivia Pederson.