Deep in a Gurnee warehouse, surrounded by boxes of light bulbs, construction materials and other goods, a group of Mundelein High School students laughed and joked Friday morning as they opened cardboard cases and wrote prices on the boxed items inside.
The teens -- members of the school's Black Student Union club -- were volunteering their time at ReStore, a retail shop benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Lake County. Goods donated to the shop are sold to the public, and the money funds the group's construction projects.
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Junior Lexus Valentine was happy to help out. She and her mom have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity before, and she's glad to keep the tradition alive.
"We take for granted what we have," Valentine said. "We don't think about having heat at home, and some people don't have it. Some people don't have homes."
Fourteen students worked at ReStore on Friday. In the spring, the club will spend a day helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house in Waukegan.
"They'll do everything from drywall to painting to siding," said club sponsor Robert Holmes, head of the school's wellness department. "Wherever they are in the construction on that house, we'll do that day."
Valentine was among a small group of students pricing boxes of fluorescent lights. Forming an assembly line, they opened the cases, marked the items and repacked them in a matter of seconds.
"I love volunteering and helping people," said junior Amanee Glover, one of the students in Valentine's group. "It's one of my favorite things."
Glover said she's looking forward to the spring construction project, but she admitted being a bit anxious about the task ahead.
"I'm afraid I'm going to mess up something," she said. "But I'll stay positive."
Elsewhere in the warehouse, sophomore Andrea Escobar and other club members labeled packages of engraving tools.
"It feels good to give back to people," she said as she affixed $3 stickers to the devices. "The smallest thing can make a big difference."
David Mork, the club's other sponsor, said he's proud of the work the students are doing for Habitat.
"When you get outside the school building, it allows us to see the kids in a different context," said Mork, head of the Mundelein High's fine and applied arts department. "It's important that we're sending a good message."