Members of the Soderquist family at La Buena Vida in Baja, Mexico over Christmas break.

The Soderquist family of Lehi didn’t have any presents under their tree for Christmas, but that’s exactly what the kids asked for. Parents Derek and Nicole, as well as their children, Nathan (14), Carmen (12), and Alyssa (8) used the money they would have spent on gifts for a trip to Baja, Mexico to help build an orphanage with A Child’s Hope Foundation, a humanitarian relief organization.

Nicole Soderquist is the Media Specialist at Lehi Elementary. There she heard about A Child’s Hope Foundation through a friend and co-worker, Cathy Lewis. Fourteen members of the Soderquist’s extended family and 36 other people were in Baja, Mexico, for five days between Christmas and New Years building a new orphanage, La Buena Vida. For five hours each day the volunteers worked. The rest of their hours were spent with the orphans; taking them to the beach, playing soccer with them, forming friendships they now treasure.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Nathan Soderquist collected 54 sports balls, 31 jump ropes, and 36 Spanish board games, as well as $140 for La Buena Vida Orphanage. Nathan’s LDS Ward was very generous in helping him reach his goals. Nicole Soderquist thought her children would at least ask for presents from Santa, but they just asked him for money to take to Mexico for the orphans. “Getting to serve was the best present – the kids received so much by serving,” said Nicole.

The Soderquists had the opportunity to serve breakfast to the residents of a village outside Tijuana, Mexico during their trip. The village was built above a garbage dump, the homes made of things they salvaged from the dump. It was an eye-opening experience for all of the humanitarian workers to see how little the people had, and yet they were happy and effusive in their gratitude.

A Child’s Hope Foundation organizes humanitarian aid trips for volunteers, and families in particular, to Mexico, and they are expanding their efforts to Ghana, Africa this year. According to their website, the mission of A Child’s Hope Foundation is “to support family-style orphanages provide the love and stability that only a family can give.” For the Soderquist family, and other Lehi families who volunteered over their Christmas break, serving was a life-changing gift.

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