While most high school students spent their winter break skiing, surfing or just hanging out with friends, more than a dozen students from La Costa Canyon High School packed two truck loads full of donations and headed down to Mexico. They delivered the goods to the Rancho de los Ninos Orphanage in the Guadalupe Valley in Baja, Mexico.
Marnie Burnett, a junior at La Costa Canyon High School, started the school club, Casa de Vida, in September. "I just wanted to bring the joy of serving in the Mexican Orphanages to LCC, I just loved that spirit so much."
Marnie has worked in orphanages with her family all over the world, but her favorite is Rancho de los Ninos. "It's just so close and only takes about two hours to drive there from San Diego. I love seeing the same kids when I go and I love that they recognize me too."
This year, the club did a sweatshirt drive at LCC.
"We ended up with over 150 sweatshirts in all sizes," explains Lahni Suzuki, an LCC junior, who is the vice president of Casa de Vida. "The Guadalupe Valley gets chilly in the winter and the kids loved the soft, warm sweatshirts. The experience was really beyond my expectations and seeing the kids so happy brought us all so much joy."
The club also collected toys and Christmas gifts that they wrapped and presented to the children.
"We brought over 200 toys which we organized, wrapped and cataloged the day before and then we arranged them on tables according to age and handed them to the kids as they came up. They were all lined up with the youngest in front and were so excited. We also made lunch for the whole orphanage and workers. We had a BBQ and served over 250 burgers and hot dogs and learned that they really like Coke," says Maysen Hendricks, a junior at LCC.
Another club member, LCC junior, Zoe Slipper adds, "I loved playing with the kids and helping them in any way I could. Serving with my friends was so special. It was also a great way to increase my Spanish skills as well as my social skills. I love this club and will never forget this trip."
When the students learned that there was a teenage boy orphanage down the road by 3 miles that didn't get many visitors, they invited the boys to lunch and made sure each one received a sweatshirt. After lunch, a friendly game of soccer broke out and Lucas Thile, a junior at LCC, said that was his favorite part of the day. "The kids had no soccer equipment, proper shoes and just a really old flat ball, but they loved the game. As we played and laughed and competed, we all felt so connected and it didn't matter that we were from different worlds, we felt like one."
Lucas plans to play collegiate soccer, but this winter break his favorite teammates were the kids from Rancho de los Ninos.