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Serving a mission: Students spend school break on Haiti trip

Eastside High School seniors Ty Raynor, Sarah Gaddis, Carly Farrow and Kari Dylong recently took a mission trip to Haiti. The students helped with construction work, food and clothing distribution and a soccer camp, where they are pictured.

Eastside High School seniors Ty Raynor, Sarah Gaddis, Carly Farrow and Kari Dylong recently took a mission trip to Haiti. The students helped with construction work, food and clothing distribution and a soccer camp, where they are pictured.

COVINGTON -- A group of high school students recently spent their school break helping needy people in Haiti, and now they hope to recruit fellow students for their next trips.

Four Eastside High School seniors and several other students from area private and home schools spent their fall break in Haiti as part of a mission trip with the Haitian Christian Mission and Play It Forward sports organization.

"I just have a love for mission work and a love for Haiti and the people there," said Eastside High School senior Sarah Gaddis, who had made the trip five times on various school breaks.

About 35 students and adults made the trip, which some others have made several times already.

"They worked really hard, getting up at 6 or 7 a.m. and working until about 6 p.m.," said Sarah's mother Alison Gaddis about the students. "It was about 100 degrees."

On the seven-day trip, they completed construction work that was being done after a recent hurricane, helped build a church and held a Bible school for 400 people.

"Some of them live in grass huts, and other people live in places with a little concrete with a tin roof," Alison Gaddis said. "You still have people living in tent cities from the earthquake two years ago."

They also distributed food, water and clothing to needy residents.

"It's a fourth-world country," Alison Gaddis said, adding that most people there don't have cars. "Some people are so poor that most kids there eat one meal a day three days a week. If they're lucky, they get water every day."

"Most kids don't have clothes on," added Sarah Gaddis. "We start handing out stuff and they start fighting over it."

As part of Play It Forward, which focuses on soccer and basketball that helps keep students' grades up and good behavior, they held a soccer camp and a basketball game in Haiti.

Sarah Gaddis said she's made some friends in Haiti since she's been so many times.

Back home, she encourages her friends to go with her on mission trips, and some actually go with her -- this year was the first trip for fellow Eastside seniors Ty Raynor and Carly Farrow; Kari Dylong has been on the trip four times. Several other Covington and Conyers residents from Young Americans Christian School, Eagles Landing Christian School and Paragon Learning Academy also went on the trip this year.

In the future, Sarah Gaddis hopes to study humanitarian work in college and continue to go to Haiti, as well as other needy places.