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Gonzaga Alumni Take Break in Vegas to Give Back

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Story and photos by Rajah Bose
LAS VEGAS – As Gonzaga University teaches, there’s always time to give back.

Gonzaga alumni, in town for the West Coast Conference Basketball Tournament, found time Sunday afternoon between basketball games and socials to pack up a few hundred boxes for the Three Square Food Bank here.

Alumna Danielle Cendejas (’04) returned after helping at last year’s service project and brought her former freshman roommate, Jessy Mombell (’04), to help her fill the boxes with dry and canned goods.

“It’s my second year participating in the food bank service project,” Cendejas said. “I had a great experience last year and brought a friend to join me this year.”

Patti Johnson, volunteer coordinator at Three Square Food Bank, helped the volunteers pack boxes and said the facility relies on volunteers. Last year, volunteers donated more than 86,800 hours to the facility – the equivalent of more than 40 full-time employees.

“We’re the only food bank in southern Nevada, so we need a lot of volunteers,” Johnson said. “We have up to 150 volunteers a day, but we can always use more.”

Kathy Zimmerman taped up food boxes as husband Zag alumnus Allan Gillette packed them. The couple comes to Las Vegas from their home near Milwaukee each year to watch the tournament. Both believe in giving back.

Zimmerman, an “adopted Zag,” said spending time with the closeknit Gonzaga family has made her wish she had attended a smaller university than her alma mater.

“We just love coming down here to see everyone,” she said. “Once the weekend is over and it’s time to leave, we ask ourselves if we’re going to come back the next year. The answer is always ‘yes.’ ”

Last year, the Three Square food bank distributed more than 24 million pounds of food and grocery products to more than 600 soup kitchens, pantries, homeless shelters, and other organizations, Johnson said. The organization is proud of its service to the community and its ability to put 93 cents of every dollar donated toward providing food.

“We are always thankful for the time that our amazing volunteers give us,” she said.

Cendejas and her friend said they were glad to lend a hand.

“Service is what makes Gonzaga so great,” Cendejas said. “It’s nice to join other Zags in helping out and giving back to such a great cause.”

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