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The Daybreak Rotary builds desks for Cornelius Elementary, plans fundraising for victims of recent wildfires.

COURTEYS PHOTO: JIM MORRIS - Forest Grove Rotary members gather for their desk building project Saturday, Oct. 3, at Cornelius Elementary. Left to right: Marlene Mutchler, Mitch Taylor, Larry Hatch, Robin Ten Broeck, Val Valfre and Joe Ten Broeck.Forest Grove Rotarians are at it again, this time lending their time to creating safer and more special workspaces for kids in the wake of the pandemic.

The Daybreak Rotary Club spent this past Saturday morning, Oct. 3, assembling individual desks for kindergarten and first grade students at Cornelius Elementary.

Club President Mitch Taylor joined three of his brethren to piece together 17 of what will ultimately amount to more than 100 desks. He said the idea behind the desks is that when the kids eventually return to on-site learning, rather than putting groups of kids at big tables and in close proximity, they'll be able to work individually and in their own space, maintaining proper social distancing standards.

Taylor said they've been over at the school a handful of times in the past month, doing what amounts to tedious, yet in the end, gratifying work.

COURTESY PHOTO: JIM MORRIS - Forest Grove Rotary members gather at Ace Hardware in Forest Grove prior to collecting trash on Highway 47 between TV Highway and B Street."These desks are pretty small, so if you've got big hands, it can be difficult at times," Taylor said with a chuckle. "But you just keep plugging away. ... It's a good project, and we've had fun with it."

He said each desk takes roughly 30 minutes, depending upon the person, and they only have 37 left to do.

Taylor has even been known to take the desks home with him, assemble them off-site and bring them back upon completion.

"I'm determined," he said. "We are determined as a club. We signed on for this and we're going to make it happen."

In addition to their desk duty, Taylor said he and their group continue to go about their regular duties, including recently cleaning alongside Highway 47, or Tualatin Valley Highway, from Highway 8 to B Street.

The region's Rotarians are also looking at ways to aid those affected by the devastating wildfires of the past month.

"We're looking at places where we can donate cash for the most part, because it appears that's what's needed the most," Taylor said. "The whole district is trying to come up with a common project so that there's a bigger impact."

COURTESY PHOTO: JIM MORRIS - Forest Grove Rotary member Guy Storms puts together a desk as part of the Rotarians' project Saturday, Oct. 3, at Cornelius Elementary.Taylor, a former Oregon Department of Forestry employee — even for a time working in the Santiam office that burned down during the fires last month — cited that connection as one of the many reasons he and others are anxious to help those in the wake of the natural disaster.

"If you think about what the Gorge looked like after that major fire, it doesn't look the same and won't for maybe decades," he said. "This is really near and dear to my heart."

In fact, Taylor said, he is constructing an informative presentation that will better allow people to understand just what it's like to fight or experience wildfires of this nature.

"I'm going to be presenting something soon to the Rotary," Taylor said. "With my fire history, they wanted to know what it's like if you're a firefighter and show up to one of these things. So I'm going to do a little 10-minute PowerPoint and try to give them the sense of what it feels like to be there and actually work it."

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