ARK Thanksgiving Meals

Students Celeste Cardoza, from left, Archal Devi and Aubrie Rush ready a box full of food for a family in need at the At Risk Kids Project at Marshfield High School on Tuesday.

COOS BAY — Twenty-seven homeless families are being given pre-cooked Thanksgiving meals this week.

Every year, the At Risk Kids Project teams up with students from Marshfield High School to help families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a holiday meal. ARK program manager and homeless liaison for the Coos Bay School District Melinda Torres credited the MHS Leadership Class for funding all of the baskets, each costing around $55.

Students fill ARK program manager Melinda Torres' car full of food for families in need at the At Risk Kids Project at Marshfield High School …

“We partnered with Safeway in Coquille and they also gave us a discount,” Torres said.

Each basket includes a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, bread rolls and pumpkin pie.

“It’s pre-cooked so it’s easy for families to heat things up,” Torres said.

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Students from the MHS Leadership Class and Charity Program met up Tuesday morning at the ARK to assemble the baskets before they are delivered. Last year, the ARK helped hand out 48 Thanksgiving baskets to families in need. Torres said there are less to hand out this year because not as many families signed up.

“To get on the list, most are families we’ve been working with this year,” Torres said. “We also sent out a survey during our backpack event to see if people would be interested.”

Not only that, but the ARK reached out to all CBSD students who qualify. So far this year, there are 246 homeless students in the district, a number that is also lower than previous years.

“It’s a little lower, I think, because the district switched to online registration,” Torres said. “We’re hoping as people adjust to online registration these numbers will go back up to a more accurate number. To help with getting people the services they need, we are still doing a lot of outreach.”

As the ARK helps homeless students and families during the holiday season, the program finds itself low on some items. Right now, it is in need of peanut butter, snacks, canned food with pop tops, canned fruit and microwavable meals. To make a donation to the ARK, items can be dropped off at the old McKenzie House located behind MHS between the radio station and woodshop.

“If we didn’t do these baskets, these families wouldn’t be able to afford the meals,” Torres said. “These baskets are important because Thanksgiving is a time for families to come together.”

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.