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Gu Students Clean Up Camp With Kindness April’s Angels Service Group Works To Help Children

It wasn’t glamorous work.

But somebody had to clean the bathrooms, scrub the kitchen floors, and rake the leaves.

“This is the only time I’ll do this with a smile,” said Gonzaga University freshman Maure Bernabe as she scrubbed the walls of an outdoor bathroom.

About 209 GU students, staff, and a few volunteers from the community gathered Saturday at Camp Dart-Lo north of Spokane for a packed day of spring cleaning.

Volunteers washed windows, cleared trails, and painted benches among other activities during the one-day cleaning blitz at the boys and girls Camp Fire site just north of Spokane.

The event was organized by GU’s April’s Angels, a campus service organization aimed at helping children.

Organizers say they want to be role models and hope kids will follow by example.

“Hopefully, they’ll see the importance of helping the community,” said April’s Angels member Jennifer Carr, who spearheaded the project.

The group started last spring after students came up with ways to give back to the community. About 200 students showed up to help renovate Trinity Elementary School in the West Central neighborhood during the group’s first project last year.

Donna Mora, a first-year history student, had brown paint across her forehead as she stroked the brush against a bathroom wall.

“I was trying to do the Karate Kid moves,” Mora said, laughing as she squinted from the sun.

Mora said volunteering should be a part of every student’s college experience, particularly at GU.

“It’s in the Jesuit spirit,” Mora said. “We feel we should do it.”

The day had special meaning to Angela Peterson. Visiting Camp Dart-Lo was not a first for the sophomore business student.

“I used to come here when I was little,” Peterson said. “That just makes it a lot more fun.”

Spending a day at the camp brought back memories for Peterson. Fellow GU students spread out a new layer of sod in an area of the camp where she used to do skits.

The volunteers were bused in from the GU campus in two four-hour shifts. The first started at 8:30 a.m.

Although most of the volunteers worked outside in cool weather, others turned indoors to tend to the kitchen and dining hall.

Jami LaBissoniere, a first-year business student, vigorously scrubbed the oven.

“I don’t think I’ve worked this hard in my own home,” LaBissoniere said.

But LaBissoniere said her work was worthwhile.

“We’re just making it a little better for the kids,” she said.

Camp director Tracy Taitch said the camp may have had to wait several years before getting the improvements done in one day.

“It’s the biggest spring cleaning we’ve ever had,” Taitch said.

Chris Davis, a community volunteer, said the group had an outpouring of businesses that wanted to help.

Garden centers, coffee shops, and a lumber company were among businesses that donated supplies and money.

, DataTimes