COOS COUNTY — Homeless children are relying on the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and the ARK Project this winter.

Bandon Dunes and the ARK have teamed up this month in a food and clothing drive. Homeless liaison and ARK Program Manager Melinda Torres initially went to the resort as a way to get more of Coos County involved in helping out the homeless.

“I asked if we could put out a clothing barrel back in March or May,” Torres said. “It was approved and I’ve been getting clothes out of there every other week.”

However, Director of Caddie Services Vince Quattrocchi decided to put on a food and clothing drive to get the whole resort involved.

“On top of what they contribute every month, they want to really push this for the holiday season and it turned into a big competition where whoever brings in the most items gets a party and bragging rights,” Torres said.

Not only that, but the resort gives out turkey vouchers to employees and some of the caddies decided to donate their vouchers to the ARK.

“They did this on their own without me asking and I want to give them a shout out for being willing to do so much for us,” she said.

Torres has been focused on expanding the ARK’s reach across the county and making sure services and the public know it helps homeless families and individuals in more than just Coos Bay and North Bend.

“None of us want to see a child go hungry or have no clothes to wear for school or have no blankets at night,” she said.

Since putting out clothing barrels at the resort, Torres has been collecting seven to 10 bags of clothes, as well as canned food items.

“Having warm clothes is very important with the rainy season right now,” she said. “We still have families camping or living out of their car or RV. So far this year, I’ve had close to six or 10 homeless families on the caseload. Some did just get into housing, which doesn’t usually happen so quickly or this often before winter, so it’s great to see good things like that especially as the weather turns.”

The food and clothing drive is running from now until Nov. 20.

All canned food items are being accepted.

“We have a lot of hungry families,” she said. “Also right now I have more kids living on their own or living with other families that need food. They might spend their food stamps way too fast, so making sure they have an emergency food box or making sure they are in our cooking class this year so they can learn how to budget their food stamps, especially since they are on their own, is important.”

Right now the ARK has 12-to-16 kids living on their own on the caseload and are seeing more new families sign up for services.

“Let’s help out kids who don’t have homes to go to, clothes to wear, tooth brushes and toothpaste, food to eat and a warm place to sleep,” read a press release from Bandon Dunes and the ARK. “School at any age is hard enough.”

Clothes and food can also be dropped off at the ARK located at 755 S. 7th Street, Coos Bay.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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