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Spring break?

7- and 5-year-old sisters help a different local business each day
by: VERN UYETAKE Veda Thomas, a chef at the West Linn Adult Community Center, prepares Jaysa Dewey for some volunteer work in the dining room at the ACC.

While their other schoolmates were enjoying a carefree spring break full of sleeping in, traveling and playing with friends, Jadyn and Jaysa Dewey of West Linn chose to use their week off to help those who have helped them.

'People have given gifts, courage and love to us,' Jadyn, 7, a second-grader at Sunset Primary, said. 'We thought it would be a lot of fun… to give back to them.'

The sisters, who are West Linn residents, made the rounds throughout town last Monday through Friday, volunteering a couple hours at a different organization each day.

On Monday, they visited PAWS Animal Shelter and helped take care of more than 80 cats waiting for permanent homes.

Jadyn and Jaysa, 5, a kindergartener at Sunset, said this was their favorite stop of the week, as they got to feed, hold and walk the cats by carrying them outside in pouches.

They helped out at the West Linn Lutheran Church on Tuesday, setting up chairs, dusting the library and straightening the nursery, and acted as greeters at the West Linn Rotary Club event on Wednesday.

On Thursday, they sorted goods at the West Linn Food Pantry - 'We did lots with sugar, coffee and toilet paper,' Jadyn said, and on Friday they stopped at the West Linn Adult Community Center to set up tables, work in the kitchen and help in its gift shop.

'They learned something from every place,' their mother, Lara Dewey, said.

And although they are young, this is not their first venture into volunteer work.

Last year, Jadyn donated her hair to help create wigs for children with cancer through the Angel Hair Foundation. And, when their family took a trip to Disneyland in October, the girls had to earn points by volunteering and completing chores before they could go.

They've also participated in Take Care of West Linn Day and helped clean up a vacant lot in the Willamette area through the rotary club.

'It's nice to give back to people that give back to you,' Jadyn said. 'It's nice that they don't have to do all the work.'

Both Jadyn and Jaysa said they'd like to repeat their spring break experience in the future, and they're already scheduled to continue volunteering at the animal shelter.

'It's been important,' said Lara - who herself volunteers with local charities through her job as business development officer at West Linn's Pacific West Bank - of the girls' work.

'It takes a village to raise a child,' she said, 'and (it's about) giving back to that village.'