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Nearly two dozen Vancouver teens stranded by 'bomb cyclone' winter storm

Selene Nesland, center, with a group of Vancouver teenagers, speaks to KATU via Skype. (KATU Photo)

A group of 20 Vancouver teenagers, and their five chaperones, are currently stranded in a Newark, New Jersey hotel.

The group is trying to get home after spending a week in the Dominican Republic doing charity work. They helped build an athletic court for an orphanage, just the latest effort spearheaded by the nonprofit Courts for Kids.

"We take students, high school and college, to the developing world and partner with communities to build multi-use athletic courts," explained Selene Nesland, co-founder of the charity.

As the group was preparing to leave the Dominican Republic, leaders knew about the impending storm. They say they tried to get United Airlines to change their flights so they could avoid the scenario of getting stranded.

"It was pretty frustrating for us because United would not re-book us on a flight until our flight was officially canceled," said Nesland. "They waited for a long time to cancel our flight, so once they canceled our flight everything was already booked out."

The group won't be able to leave Newark until Sunday. In the meantime, they're stranded at a hotel with only a small collection of summer clothes.

"We donated all of our clothes and toiletries and everything to the kids at the orphanage, so we're really coming back with nothing," said Nesland.

Nesland says local churches in Newark have stepped forward to help. However, the group is still looking for funds to offset hotel and food costs. Anyone wishing to donate can do so at the Courts for Kids website.

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