Making the holidays bright for all

The most at-risk students in Coos Bay School District had a happy Thanksgiving thanks to the generosity of the community and the dedication of staff and students in the district.

Last Monday, ARK Project Coordinator Melinda Torres, Education Assistant Barbara Green and students with the Marshfield High School Charity Program delivered Thanksgiving baskets to 31 families, most of them homeless families.

Torres, who serves as the homeless liaison for the Coos Bay and North Bend school districts and has run for ARK Project for six years, said the families all received food to provide a full Thanksgiving meal.

The baskets included turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, macaroni and cheese and a pie.

In addition, the Charity Program students hosted a food drive in November, and all the donated food was sorted and delivered along with the Thanksgiving baskets.

“I really enjoy doing it,” Torres said. “Barbara and I both do.”

With the Thanksgiving baskets in the hands of families, Torres is already looking ahead to the next holiday. Through the ARK Project and the generosity of employees of Coos Bay School District, Torres has a goal of providing gifts for 123 children in need throughout Coos County.

The majority of the students are from Coos Bay School District, but Torres said there are a handful from every city in the county.

Every year, holiday trees are placed in schools in Coos Bay, and teachers and other staff pick tags off the trees and buy gifts for the students. While the trees and student tags are only available to school district employees, Torres said the need is outgrowing the employees’ ability to purchase gifts.

The ARK Project has partnered with the Knights of Columbus to provide food baskets to the families, but gifts are a different story. Community members who want to get involved can call the ARK Project at 541-267-3104 ext. 7115 to donate money or offer assistance in other ways.

With the help of the Charity Program students, all the gifts will be wrapped and delivered to families to ensure everyone has a reason to smile during the holiday season.