Dunedin high-schoolers ripped off on Hurricane Irma relief trip

- Arriving from Dunedin, a group of high schoolers couldn't believe conditions in the Keys are still so bad after Hurricane Irma.

"There were some houses on the beach, and one was completely destroyed," said Morgan Ahearn, 16, of Tarpon Springs.

Ahearn and 10 other high schoolers from downtown Dunedin's First Methodist Church spent three days installing drywall for those who lost everything when Irma swept through.

"There is a lady living out of an RV in her yard," said Ahearn.

Their trip to the Keys, in a rented van, may have taught them just as much. 

While stopped for dinner in Miami, thieves popped the lock on their van.

"There are bad people who don't think about others, and who don't think about the consequences of their actions," said Ahearn.

They stole seven backpacks filled with their laptops, clothes, bibles, and medicine.

"At first, I was kind of angry," said Rev. Jason Knotts. "But then I thought this might be a great perspective for them. They lost some significant stuff themselves, but they are going down to serve people who have lost just about everything."

Like many churches, they have made charity a major part of their mission. Along with their Keys relief mission, they are collecting back-to-school supplies for kids who need them. 

They're getting lessons in nature's power, and human nature.

"We are right in the heart of downtown Dunedin," said Knotts. "It's a small town but we are known in the community. We want to be known not just for the building that sits here but the people that are in there."

The students will spend the rest of the week in the Keys, returning Saturday.

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