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COOS COUNTY — The 18th annual Bus Jam Toy and Food Drive kicked off over the weekend as community members and volunteers braved the rain to donate toys and food to hundreds of local families in need.

The annual K-DOCK and Rotary event, which took place at various locations throughout Coos County, collected and filled up school buses with hundreds of toy donations as well as non-perishable food items.

Volunteer Penny Buchan carries an armload of donations into a school bus Saturday during the annual Bus Jam Toy and Food Drive outside of Bi-M…

Longtime volunteer Dennis Goodwin, the location safety manager at First Student Bus Company, said he got involved with the event in 2001 because he understood firsthand the importance of helping others.

“My family struggled and we just wanted to give back,” said Goodwin. “It’s about paying it forward and helping people in need.”

K-DOCK’s operations manager Mike “The Bear” Chavez said typically the event collects about 20,000 pounds of food and about 2,000 toys from just its Bay Area collection sites.

Since its first year, Chavez said more than 7,000 children have received toys from the Bus Jam and more than 300,000 pounds of food has been collected. About 200 bicycles were also donated over the weekend by local organization Bykes for Tykes who once again partnered with K-DOCK to help local families in need.

According to Walt Evans, of Bykes for Tykes, the organization, which has been hosting its own toy run for about 19 years, donated about $30,000 worth of toys and bicycles to this year’s Bus Jam.

Volunteers work Saturday as the annual Bykes for Tykes and Bus Jam Toy and Food Drive converge outside of Bi-Mart in Coos Bay.

As part of the Rotary Toy Distribution, toys collected from the event will be handed out to families who meet certain qualifications on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Folks who wish to participate are encouraged to register online at www.busjam.org or call 541-435-7774 to sign up. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Dec. 11.

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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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