By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – A group of 10 students from Denver’s DSST: College View High School are raising money for a mission trip to the devastated island of Puerto Rico. While the initial focus of the mission trip was to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria, following the recent earthquakes, their mission could evolve.

(credit: CBS)

“A part of our original plan was to raise money to provide supplies for area schools. We will do that still, but we may switch plans to actually going to parts of Puerto Rico that may need water, clothing and pass out some of those resources,” said Charles Ferrer, the college advisor at College View.

Saturday’s quake that was measured at 5.9 was followed by power outages reminiscent to many of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

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“They haven’t even been able to recover,” said Heisi Olivas, a junior at College View.

Olivas has never seen the ocean so the trip will be more than eye-opening. While she’s an inexperienced traveler, she knows exactly how to help.

“We’re going to go play soccer with some little kids back in the middle school, and I just want to take their mind off of what’s going on and how much has been devastated. I just want to see smiles brought upon their faces,” she said.

For senior Aracely Barrara, it’s a chance to expand her world a little before heading off to college.

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“It’s just like, seeing reality. Just knowing that like, things aren’t sugar coated and like going to Puerto Rico is an eye opening experience,” said Barrara.

Ferrer has been to the island on many occasions and says he is most looking forward to showing the students the island’s resiliency.

“What we’ve seen on the island over the past week is so many people in Puerto Rico coming together in solidarity, and we would love to be a part of that as well.”

The students will be able to earn community service by working on rebuilding homes, cleaning up trails still littered with hurricane debris and spending time at schools helping students garden and learn.

Ferrer says he’s keeping an eye on conditions and is prepared to adjust course if the earthquakes and tremors don’t subside by March. He says a mission trip will happen no matter what.

Charles Ferrer (credit: CBS)

“Because I’m a planner, I’ve already thought about this which is difficult for me because I would hate to alter plans, but obviously the safety of our students and staff is priority,” Ferrer said. “They’ve been committed from the start. They want to give back. They want to make a difference, and I don’t want external factors to stop us from giving back to our friends and family that need our help.”

The students have raised $1,000 each, but need $1,500 each to make the trip happen. If you would like to help, they have a GoFundMe page set up through February.

Jamie Leary


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