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Food Drive

Volunteers work a busy food line Saturday during the annual Christmas Food Basket Program over the weekend at the a hanger at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend. The group doled out 150,000 pounds of food to families in need.

NORTH BEND — Cars lined up bumper-to-bumper Saturday as hundreds of volunteers passed out free food boxes, meal vouchers and toys to families in need.

The Knights of Columbus, Council 1261, hosted its annual “Christmas Food Basket Program” over the weekend at the airport hanger in North Bend. The group handed out 1,300 food boxes, which  totaled about 150,000 pounds of food, to families that attended this year’s event.

Mike Main, a project coordinator and Knights of Columbus member, said the group has been providing food for Coos County families needing help for about 35 years.

During that time, the group has more than tripled its outreach from helping an average of 25 widows at their churches to now giving thousands of families’ food for the holidays.

“A lot of people have come to depend on us for their Christmas,” said Main. “The Knights of Columbus are a group of Catholic men whose primary goals are to help our community, our families and our town.”

This year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an event partner, contributed about $35,000 worth of food and its own group of volunteers who helped prepare boxes days before the event.

The Perrydale High School FFA Chapter in Amity also assisted this year, delivering about 55,000 pounds of locally sourced vegetables and fruits as part of its “Food for All” service program.

According to Main, all of the funds collected for the group’s food box program come completely from donations and grants given by local businesses, organizations and community members.

In addition to providing the food boxes, volunteers also handed out free toys to children 10 years of age or younger as well meal vouchers to McKay’s Market valued at about $35.

Jim DeLong, a Knight of Columbus committee member, said the vouchers will allow families to grab essential food items such as milk, eggs, meat and cheese.

Over his 26 years with the group, DeLong said he’s proud of the work they’ve been able to do within the community and the relationships they’ve built with other churches, organizations and schools.

“Some of the families we help today we got through our community partners,” said DeLong. “They usually give me a list of clients and I’ll go ahead and give them the tickets.”

According to DeLong, the Knights of Columbus opened up registration last month for families to come sign up for their boxes. Doing so, allowed for the group to ensure everyone that attended Saturday’s event walked away with food.   

For those who couldn’t attend due to transportation limits, various organizations arranged for their own deliveries. The boxes are expected to last families for about a week.

Local Girl Scouts, Bay Area Hospital, Walmart, Boy Scout Troop 156, Coquille Indian Tribe, Jordan Cove LNG and Sause Bros. were among a large number of sponsors for this year’s event.

“We spent close to $90,000 this year,” said Main. “If there are any boxes left then we’ll take some of them to our churches and some to the Pelican Harbor Food Bank.”

For more information about the Knights of Columbus, Coos Council 1261, and its food box program, contact financial secretary,  Mike Taylor at mnbtaylor@frontier.com.    

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