Photo Provided
Grace College student Hope Rauchenstein (R) spent her spring break in Mexico volunteering at an orphanage. She is pictured with one of the orphans, 8-year-old Beva.
Photo Provided Grace College student Hope Rauchenstein (R) spent her spring break in Mexico volunteering at an orphanage. She is pictured with one of the orphans, 8-year-old Beva.
WINONA LAKE - While many students spent their spring break partying, Grace College freshman Hope Rauchenstein used her passion for children and spent her spring break volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico.

Rauchenstein, 19, an elementary education major, spent her spring break volunteering at Door of Faith Orphanage in La Mision, Mexico, a town south of San Diego, Calif.

The town of La Mision is 40 miles south of the U.S. border, close to the Pacific Ocean.

The orphanage houses approximately 110 orphans ranging from infants to adults in their 20s.

"As long as they stay in school and are pursuing an education they can stay at the orphanage," Rauchenstein said.

She said the orphanage has never had a runaway child, which is common in other orphanages in Mexico.

The orphanage receives no government funding and is funded by supporters and church donations.

"Most of the orphans have families who they keep in contact with, but come from cases of abuse, have parents who are unable to take care of them because they are in jail, or the orphans are just dropped off at the orphanage," she said.

She said many of the children are brothers and sisters that come from the same family and some of their parents are able to visit them.

Rauchenstein said she was five minutes from the beach, but did not go to there while on spring break because she wanted to spend time with the children.

This was Rauchenstein's third time at the orphanage. She previously visited in the summers of 2005 and 2006 with her hometown church from Ohio for a missions trip. This was her first year volunteering at the orphanage during spring break.

Rauchenstein went to visit a friend who oversees groups who come for work projects at the orphanage and spent time watching the children.

"The children there are simply amazing and they are so grateful for everything they have and though they have experienced pain, they still express joy," Rauchenstein said.

She said she plans to become an English as a Second Language teacher after college.

She wrote and designed a book for her children's literature class at Grace College titled "Just Like You and Me."

The assignment was to write a children's book.

The book features photos of the children at the orphanage and describes in English and Spanish how similar the children in Mexico are to American children.

Rauchenstein said she is financially supporting Alberto, a 13-year-old at the orphanage for $25 a month.

"I can give up a pizza, a pair of shoes or a trip to Wal-Mart to support a child in need," she said.

The money goes to provide school supplies, clothing, food and laundry needs for the orphanage.

"Supporting Alberto is more personal to me because I know him and know his needs," Rauchenstein said.

For more information about the orphanage visit www.dofo.org