Lifetouch Celebrates More Than 20 Years of Memory Missions By Building a School in Guatemala Out of Recycled Plastic Bottles

Volunteers Return From Lifetouch Memory Mission Week of Building a School in Guatemala Out of Recycled Plastic Bottles    

Educators and Lifetouch and Shutterfly Employees from Across North America Participated in the Trip from January 18 – 25, 2023 


(Eden Prairie, MN, January 30, 2023)  — Nearly 40 volunteers returned recently from the Lifetouch Memory Mission trip to Guatemala where educators from across the country joined Lifetouch and Shutterfly employees and executives to spend a week in Guatemala helping build a more environmentally responsible school out of plastic bottles. 

 The trip, which took place January 18 to 25, was Lifetouch’s 20th year of bringing together volunteers from around the country to serve children, families, and communities around the world.  

Lifetouch partnered with Guatemala-based Hug It Forward and the local community to build the school consisting of “bottle classrooms.”  Hug It Forward has been building educational infrastructures using plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash or eco-bricks since 2009. Bottle classrooms are built using the established method of post-and-beam construction. The foundations, columns, and beams are made from concrete reinforced with iron rebar. Instead of cinder blocks, the eco-bricks are used to fill the wall. The schools are expected to last 100 years.  

The school in Guatemala serves 640 students and 20 teachers from Kindergarten through 6th grade.  The community prepared more than 10,000 bottles stuffed with inorganic trash. Each eco-brick takes 90 minutes to 2 hours to prepare and the community spent more than 20,000 hours preparing the eco-bricks for the project. 


First-Ever Personal Portrait Day for Students 

In addition to building the school, volunteers took personal portraits of the community’s K-6th grade school children. The photos were delivered in person on the last day of the mission trip. The photos were the first-ever professional portraits taken within this community. 


About the Lifetouch Memory Mission  

The Lifetouch Memory Mission is a philanthropic effort that enables company employees and national education partners to travel worldwide to provide intensive volunteer services. Past mission trips have included helping to rebuild a village in war-torn Kosovo, repairing homes in Appalachia, establishing a children’s center in Jamaica, and constructing a bridge in the land of the Navajo in Arizona. Memory Mission volunteers have also built thirteen schools across Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Overall, more than 500 volunteers have devoted over 100,000 hours to Lifetouch Memory Mission projects.  

“For more than two decades Lifetouch has sent crews of educators and employees to remote areas of the world to build stronger, more resilient communities,” said Jan Haeg, Community Relations Manager at Lifetouch. “This effort was especially exciting this year because with the help of Hug It Forward and members of the community we worked side-by-side to build an eco-friendly structure that will house students for decades to come and we did it with a network of educators and employees who really care about giving back.” 

For more information on the Mission, volunteers or a gallery of photographs visit Lifetouch Memory Mission. 


About Lifetouch 

At Lifetouch, our purpose is to help families capture life’s memories. For more than 80 years, Lifetouch has been the professional photography company of choice for schools and families. Located in Eden Prairie, MN, the company operates in local communities across North America. 

Built on the tradition of “Picture Day”, Lifetouch captures smiling faces from preschool through high school graduation, as well as sports, special events, seniors and yearbooks; and also serves customers in JCPenney Portraits. 

Lifetouch is proud to be a part of the Shutterfly family of brands.