School Building Trip in Jamaica Helps Poor, Strengthens Bonds

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  Some of the participants.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 4, 2013) –On President’s Day weekend, 51 philanthropic individuals journeyed to Jamaica to participate in the construction of a school they raised money to build in partnership with Food For The Poor.

Chris Davitt and Craig Ruppert, along with help from their families and friends, expanded Knoxwood Basic School in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, by constructing additional classrooms to improve the school’s condition for 142 students. The group also found time to frame the windows, doors, walls, roof, and paint a prime coat on a second school; and poured the foundation of two houses for needy families. 

The building mission trip, Feb. 15-18, offered opportunities for families to reconnect and strengthen their relationships. 

“I believe one unexpected benefit of these trips is that parents and children both learn that giving back is not a sacrifice at all, it’s fulfilling,” said Chris Davitt, President of Ruppert Landscape.

Since 2001, this group of committed donors in partnership with Food For The Poor has built four schools, 165 housing units, a home for the elderly, equipped a community with a sustainable fishing village project and installed two water projects. Their efforts have improved the health and living conditions of many throughout Jamaica and Haiti.

“Even though I have traveled with Food For The Poor many times, I always return reminded of the vital importance of the charity’s work,” said Craig Ruppert, Founder and CEO of Ruppert Landscape. “The impoverished in Jamaica treat us like we are family, which is just one reason we want to continue to return.”

The annual trips offer an opportunity to show young adults the importance and benefits of being good stewards and team players. At the Jerusalem Home for Handicapped Children, before group members picked up their hammers and paint brushes, they played catch, swung on the swing set, and completed puzzles with the children and adults.

“One of the most valuable takeaways from our trips is the bond that is formed between parents and their children when they both step out of their comfort zone together,” said Davitt.

This year, more than half of the group was high school or college age. Some of the schools represented included: Catonsville High School (Catonsville, Md.), Connelly School of the Holy Child (Potomac, Md.), California University of Pennsylvania (California, Pa.), East Carolina University (Greenville, N.C.), Fordham University (Bronx, N.Y.), Georgetown Visitation in (Washington, D.C.), Our Lady of Good Counsel High School (Olney, Md.), St. John’s College High School (Washington, D.C.), The Academy of the Holy Cross (Kensington and Potomac, Md.),University of Southern Carolina (Columbia, S.C.), and Urbana High School (Ijamsville, Md.)

School-building travelers included: Ashley Arcidiacono, Austin Band, Darryn Band, Jake Band, Daniel Behrman, Teri Boragno, JD Butler, Brittany Caceres, Lou Caceres, Kearney Cassidy, Chris Davitt, Emmet Davitt, Patrick Davitt, Wooly “Ward” Devine, Annie Donatelli, DJ Donatelli, Maggie Donatelli, Mary Donatelli, Jenna Fairbanks. Daniela Falcone, John Gerold, Lyndsey Gerold, Cindy Comerford Gillette, Andrew Greene, Kathleen Greene, John Hollingsworth, Tricia Horn, Emily Hunt, Frank Kraus, Jacob Livingston, Noah Livingston, Scott Livingston, Cathy Maier, Katie Mauck, Megan McQuinn, Miranda Mitchell, Molly Moore, Andy Moss, Cody Moss, Mary and Stephen Moss, Stephanie Moss, Battista Orcino, Christina Orcino, Dominic Orcino, John Ossing, Erin Reynolds, Peter Rudnicki, Craig Ruppert, Carter Ward, and Becky Ward.

You can learn more about Food For The Poor’s mission trips at or by emailing

Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organizationin the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

Jennifer Leigh Oates

Food For The Poor
Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054