Washington State University says it is financially committed to helping victims of the Oso landslide.

On Thursday, WSU President Elson Floyd made the long trip to Darrington for the first time. The drive down Highway 530 was part of his journey to the area, where he shared a few hugs and promises to people who live there.

“Restore this community to the way it was before the mudslide is our obligation,” said Floyd.

Floyd announced the school will continue to fund various programs, include one involving Katee Fee. WSU hired the university freshman to be a summer intern working in the slide zone, helping raise donations for victims and teaching kids at the nearby school.

“Those kids have made a huge impact on my life, and from what they’ve told me, I’ve had a huge impact on theirs,” she said.

“You want to give these kids hope and ideas they’ve never had before,” said senior Deneen Natac, who grew up in Arlington and also spent her summer vacation in Darrington.

“This is our way to give back since we couldn’t be there to cope with our family and friends,” said Natac.

Floyd says WSU has committed to spending at least two years here in the slide zone, and that includes putting together an economic development plan for cities like Darrington and Arlington.

It also includes tuition waivers for students in the slide zone, planned fundraisers in Pullman and Snohomish County next month - and something which has no quantifiable number for students like Fee.

“It has changed my life,” said Fee. “It definitely has.”

It’s a lesson in life and a bit of support for the area still on a long road to recovery.

WSI will have a banquet to raise funds for slide victims on the Pullman campus next month, and students will sponsor a service-learning weekend in Darrington later in September.