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NORTH BEND — Community members couldn’t help but crack a smile as they wandered over early Saturday morning to the trays of freshly scrambled eggs, hot, creamy oatmeal and crispy potatoes laid out in the dining hall at the College Park Church in North Bend.

A man adds brown sugar and raisins to his oatmeal Saturday during a free weekly breakfast at College Park Church in North Bend.

Whether it was the smell of the food or the friendly faces around the room, volunteers at the church say it’s those smiles that makes preparing and serving food to hundreds of folks in need all the more worth it.

“Our faith teaches us to look out for one another and to serve the less fortunate,” said volunteer Patti Young. “It’s all about showing the love of Christ and trying to get people in this community fed.”

As part of the church’s Saturday Morning Community Meal program, countless volunteers have for over three years served more than 30,000 meals to community members in need.

Founders of the program, Patti and her husband, Greg, the worship leader at the College Park Church, say the program has grown substantially since its beginning mainly through word of mouth.

In partnership with the Pelican Harbor Food Bank as well as through private donations, the program has been able to prepare meals for the community, which includes dishes with fresh fruits, vegetables and an array of proteins and grains.

With help from 19 other churches throughout the area, volunteers have faithfully showed up every Saturday morning to serve breakfast to the community’s homeless population as well as anyone looking for a hot meal.

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“We do get a few children that come in and when they do we try our best to make them feel like royalty,” said Greg. “It’s not their fault their parents are in these circumstances. So, when they do come in we hand them stuffed animals and special treats.”

Seeing additional needs early on, the meal events also include handing out sack lunches, toiletries, clothing and other supplies to folks in need of extra items.

Earlier this year, Greg said the church partnered with The Harbor: Assembly of God, to host free Saturday lunches to community members in the Bunker Hill/Coos Bay area.

“The reason we started that one was because we’d drive through downtown Coos Bay on Saturdays and see hundreds of people that we didn’t see at our breakfast,” said Greg. “So far over there we’ve handed out over 4,000 hot and cold lunches.”

As the holiday season approaches, College Park Church will be hosting a restaurant-style Thanksgiving-inspired breakfast on Saturday, Nov. 23. Organizers are calling out for additional volunteers and anyone who is interested is encouraged to contact Greg at 541-290-1463.

The Saturday Morning Community Meal program takes place every Saturday from 7 to 9 a.m. in the dining hall of the College Park Church located at 2548 Newmark St. in North Bend. The meal event is open to anyone regardless of their faith or circumstance.

“This is a safe place where people can come sit down and get a good meal,” said Patti. “The bottom line is we are all God’s children and it doesn’t matter if you own a mansion and are a millionaire or if you’re sleeping on the street. We are all the same and we should treat each other with love and respect.”

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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