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Service under the sun

Ten seniors donned gardening gloves, wielded loppers and swung pickaxes under the Monday morning sun on Mission Hill’s McLaughlin Woodlands.

The spring cleanup project, led by Paul Sutton of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, was held during Senior Week as a community service day for soon-to-be graduates.

Ryan Van Dam, a marketing major from Westford, Mass., used a pickaxe and pair of loppers to uproot thorny rose bushes, which have been known to grow tall enough to block sunlight.

“There are thousands of roots growing everywhere,” he declared. “We have to get under the roots and loosen them up.”

Van Dam enjoyed the labor-intensive work. “Why not give back?” he said, noting that he has painted murals for a South End elementary school as part of a community service project with Northeastern’s chapter of the Society of Collegiate Scholars. “We’re outside on a nice day.”

Kayla DeVincentis, a health science major who uprooted garlic mustard plants, agreed with her classmate.

“We should give back to an area where we spent the last five years,” said DeVincentis, a Vermont native. “Spending a couple of hours helping out is the least I could do.”

“I have an affinity toward the area and it’s very important for us to give back,” added Chuck Berds, a pharmacy major and former president of Northeastern’s Resident Student Association.

He said he joined the Senior Class Advisory Board to build camaraderie with his peers. “I wanted my final year to be all about having fun with my class,” he said.

Sutton praised the three-hour effort. “The students helped keep the area clean and attractive and ready for the harvesting of fruit,” he said, noting that the woodlands are home to some 75 wild apple and pear trees.

“There’s been a big movement to sustainable urban living,” he added. “That’s why we’re here.”