Students at Acalanes High School in Lafayette donate dresses, sports equipment to Dominican Republic after Hurricane Maria

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- A small gift goes a long way in a country like the Dominican Republic that's still recovering from devastation left behind by Hurricane Maria. ABC7 Stars recognizes local people doing extraordinary things, like a Lafayette student who spent half a year making gifts for kids abroad.

Lauren Kobashigawa made and sold peanut butter to send sports balls and dresses to kids in the Dominican Republic.

The high school junior spent half a year on the project. Lauren wanted to help kids she met in the Dominican Republic during a summer abroad program. Lauren was a camp leader as part of her study abroad experience. She ran a volleyball camp.

"The kids would always fight over who could carry those two balls down to the courts to play with them. There were about 30 kids. Everyone was sharing two balls," remembers Lauren.

"I knew I wanted to send balls down, so that's how the peanut butter came in. I used the money from the peanut butter to buy the balls," explains Lauren.

it wasn't just sports equipment, the Acalanes High School student also sent 30 homemade dresses. Lauren, along with her friends and family, sewed the dresses themselves.

"I was really happy to help," says Lauren's friend Sydney Norstad.

"We're very proud of Lauren. She has done just a spectacular thing by bringing two communities together," says her dad Scot Kobashigawa.

Both Lauren's parents and friends agree, the teenager has a big heart.

"Lauren is super kind and compassionate," says friend Scarlette Mccullough.

Lauren did learn a lot of Spanish during her trip.

Her message to the Dominican Republic?

"Quiero decir gracias por una experiencia inolvidable y por cambiar mi vida" (Thanks for an unforgettable experience and for changing my life).

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