The stories that stick with us: How a Daily Herald photo shoot turned into something memorable

One of the best parts about this job is meeting inspiring people.

They often are local volunteers, philanthropists, schoolteachers, police officers, firefighters and even politicians.

But more than eight years ago, I was inspired by a group of 10 high school students.

It happened as part of my duties helping to organize coverage of the Daily Herald's Leadership and Academic teams. The annual teams were the newspaper's way of recognizing outstanding students in DuPage, Northwest Cook County, Lake County and the Fox Valley.

In December 2013, I arranged the group photo of the DuPage Leadership Team. These young men and women, exemplifying volunteerism and community service, met for the first time during that photo shoot at the College of DuPage. They spent less than 30 minutes together.

Still, that brief meeting triggered something that had never happened before. The students reached out to one another on their own and decided to collaborate on a community service project.

One of the students - Meg Maloney of Glen Ellyn - told me at the time that being named to the Leadership Team motivated her and the other team members to pursue the project.

"We knew that we had this amazing title being named to the Leadership Team," Maloney said. "Because it was a big deal, we felt like we should do something with the opportunity."

The students ended up spending Easter Sunday evening in 2014 volunteering at a DuPagePads site in Naperville.

They helped set up the beds for the homeless people at the shelter. They also helped prepare three meals' worth of food for the shelter's residents.

So after being randomly thrown together, those students worked together to make a difference.

I ended up writing an article about the students in March 2014. And while it wasn't breaking news or coverage of a huge trial, that story has stayed with me because it reaffirmed my faith in young people.

• Deputy City Editor Robert Sanchez has worked for the Daily Herald since 1995.

Members of the Daily Herald Leadership Team in 2014 volunteered at a DuPagePads site in Naperville. The high school students from DuPage County decided to do a community service project after meeting each other during a photo shoot. Daily Herald file photo
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