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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

As the spring semester progresses, all students start to look forward to spring break. Some plan to return to their homes and have a chill week off of school and others are planning to travel and hang out with friends. My spring break was very different this year. A group that I am involved in on campus was going to Fort Myers, FL for the week to help rebuild homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Ian. I wasn’t initially planning on going, but I was peer pressured by my friends and decided to go. We all packed up and got on a charter bus to make the 24 hour trip to Florida. 

My campus group, Cru, partnered with two humanitarian crisis relief groups, Adventures in Missions (AIM) and Unto, who already had a base camp set up in the Harlem Heights area. Groups of volunteers pass through this camp and work with AIM and Unto to help rebuild homes destroyed by the hurricane. A lot of homes had water damage and needed to be gutted and cleaned out before they could be rebuilt. The project my group of 12 did that week was to put drywalling back into the homes that had been cleaned out. Other groups were building bunk beds for future volunteers to sleep in.  Some were on the kitchen crew, making all the food for the week. 

The home that I walked into for the first time on Monday and the last time on Friday was  completely different because the house had no interior walls below 4 feet. Once we left, the entire house had been drywalled, mudded and sanded for painting. It was very rewarding to see our progress and know that we had made an impact on someone’s home in such a literal way. 

Because I was so far removed from the hurricane in Florida, it never really crossed my mind about how devastating it was, but seeing the damage first hand opened my eyes to the tragedy that the community suffered. The most inspiring part about the whole week was seeing the people of Harlem Heights rally around each other and help in any way they could. Those who lost their homes were welcomed into other houses with open arms and people were caring for each other in small ways that made a huge impact. This trip depicted to me the resilience of humanity and the strength of a community determined to get back on their feet. 

Stephanie is a junior at MSU majoring in journalism with a concentration in photojournalism. She enjoys DIY crafts, working out and the gym and hanging out with her friends.