Pacific Camps St. Helens replaces bus destroyed by arson through community donations

PHOTO COURTESY OF APRIL BURBANK - Students at Pacific Camps St. Helens stand in front of a newly acquired bus that was purchased with donations from numerous community members collected in July. The summer camp program lost its bus July 8 in an arson fire.
Several weeks after the only bus for a summer day-camp in Warren was destroyed in an arson fire, the program was able to buy a new one thanks to fundraising by the community.

The only school bus for Pacific Camps St. Helens was destroyed in an arson fire earlier this month, leaving the program, which specializes in field trips, scrambling to figure out how to transport nearly 60 children to and from various activities.

With help from the community, Dave Galceran, the Northwest director of Pacific Camps, said the program was able to purchase a new bus last week. Galceran said they collected funds internally and also received cash donations from "intentional givers and anonymous donors."

Thanks to a partnership with a faith-based ministry in Gresham, Galceran said the program was also able to purchase a used bus from the organization for a significant discount. They were even able to purchase a new set of tires for the bus and were able to begin transporting children for field trips immediately.

While Galceran, declined to say how much was raised and how much the new bus cost, he said he and other staff were grateful for the support.

When asked what it means to have a working bus back at the camp, Galceran's response was simple.

"It means everything," he said. "We have no more transportation issues at this point."

On July 8, the Pacific Camps bus was destroyed when several minors were able to climb inside it in the early evening. One of the minors lit a book on fire and the blaze quickly spread, according to reports from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Columbia River Fire and Rescue.

One minor was arrested in connection with the arson fire and the case was referred to the Juvenile Division of the Columbia County Department of Community Justice.

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