Thousands of college students are back in class this week following spring break. For some, the time away from campus is about rest and relaxation near sunny beaches and swimming pools. But for some South Dakota State University students, R & R was more about reaching out and religion.
The Big Apple was a big culture shock for 40 SDSU students, who volunteered their time on a mission trip with their church.
"A lot of them may have grown up in a church, use to worshiping on Sunday mornings, but this trip was an opportunity to step out beyond what they are comfortable with," Gracepoint Wesleyan pastor Aaron Cloud said.
While serving God, the students served the homeless in some pretty rough neighborhoods in the Bronx, Harlem and Manhattan.
"People would come up and tell you their story of how they got to where they are and it made me feel better because I know I'm blessed with a really awesome life," sophomore Hope Gauger said.
The students served in the soup kitchens, packaged toiletry items and food and delivered them out to the homeless in the streets.
"Just like going in and telling people, seeing their face go like digging through the trash, not talking and you say, hey there's hot food outside and their faces perk up, that was the coolest part for me," junior Jordan Hilbert said.
"Giving them a hot dog on the street, it was nice to know I can make a little bit of a difference," Gauger said.
"These are people who live on the street and they were in shock that college students would take their spring break and some even asked 'why you even here, you could be on the beach and at some wild parties you see on TV' that college students are at, so just the fact that these students sacrificed their spring break to go to New York and invest in other people that speaks volumes to the people we ministered to," Cloud said.
Each student had to raise almost $800 a piece to pay their way for the mission trip.