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Loyola High School students help out with springtime cleaning for Montreal West seniors

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Students at Loyola High School helped out with spring cleaning as part of a new initiative to connect students with local seniors.

As the years go by, Judy MacDonald says it's become harder for her to tackle spring cleaning tasks.

"Some of it I've neglected," said the 80-year-old Montreal West resident.

She said that's why she jumped at the chance to receive help.

"Now, I've got everything clean and up-to-date and hopefully it'll last the summer," she said.

She says that's all because of an initiative between Montreal West and Loyola High School.

A first in the neighbourhood, the idea is simple: have students help residents with reduced mobility with their outdoor spring chores.

"We've actually done this shed over here so far … We took out all the stuff, we sprayed it with the hose, we cleaned everything. Now, we're going to go over to the deck I'm pretty sure, and fix everything there. And then we have a couple more things to do and then I think we'll be done," explained Kye Philips, a Grade 8 student.

Eighteen students signed up to be part of the first cohort of the program.

The time they spent helping with chores Saturday is counting towards the mandatory community service hours Loyola students need to do.

Two Grade 8 students say participating is about more than just a school requirement.

"It's really good helping out someone who can't really help themselves out as much," said Thomas Yeates.

"Even if I already finished all my hours, I'd probably still do it. It's like I'm not even thinking that it's for school. It's more as in, I'm just helping the community," said Philips.

For Eleanor Henoch and Fred Braman, the help is coming at just the right moment.

"I was unwell for a little while, so I just couldn't attack the gardens. It just seemed overwhelming," Henoch said.

With two kids of their own who attended Loyola, the couple says it feels confident having the students handle tasks.

"They teach their kids to be involved in their community and to help people," said Braman.

Montreal West's senior's advisory committee dubbed May 25 as Caring Neighbourhood Day — a fitting name that goes a long way toward supporting older residents, said Colleen Feeney, a Town of Montreal West councillor.

"One of our goals is to do some more of those intergenerational activities," Feeney said. "All those kinds of things help stop ageism."

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