COOS BAY — The Fellowship Hall at St. Monica Catholic Church in Coos Bay was transformed Saturday as festive, harvest decorations covered the room in celebration of the 10th annual “Purses for Nurses” event.

Nurses For Purses

A volunteer sells auction tickets Saturday during the 10th annual “Purses for Nurses” event at St. Monica Catholic Church Fellowship Hall in Coos Bay.

The event, which was hosted by the Coos County Friends of Public Health, called on community members to bid on thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts and services to help local families in need.

According to CCFOPH President Frances Smith, the nonprofit organization, which was founded in 2008, works to enhance the public health services offered in Coos County to better meet the needs of its communities.

The funds raised by the organization helps thousands of people in need access a number of clinical and health educational services provided by the county’s public health department.

This year’s theme, a "Harvest Festival Fundraiser," featured more than 50 auction items which were donated from dozens of local businesses and people from around the South Coast.

With over 100 people in attendance Saturday, Smith said the organization is hoping to raise at least $10,000 this year. The auction items, which were displayed with colorfully decorated purses and small gifts, were designed by committee member Lindi Quinn.

“Lindi has this marvelous talent for creating these themed auction items which really makes our fundraiser quite unique,” said Smith. “She keeps her eye out all year round for purses which would match perfectly with our donated items and just pulls them together.”

Women look over auction items Saturday during the 10th annual “Purses for Nurses” event at St. Monica Catholic Church Fellowship Hall in Coos Bay.

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The “Purses for Nurses” event, which was named by member David Ford in 2010, was titled in recognition of the nurses who perform many of the health services offered at the county’s public health department.

The name also highlights the pool of funds health officials can pull from to pay for items needed by families who are struggling financially to afford certain things.

For example, Coos Health & Wellness Public Health Director Florence Pourtal-Stevens said recently its department was able to help a local family, who is receiving care for their two children with special health needs, pay for a new set of tires for their vehicle.

“The family just bought a car and realized it needed new tires,” said Pourtal-Stevens. “They put a lot of miles on it to be able to take their kids to their doctor appointments outside their community. So we helped them put new tires on their car using these funds.”

Auction items Saturday during the 10th annual “Purses for Nurses” event at St. Monica Catholic Church Fellowship Hall in Coos Bay.

Since much of the federal and state funding distributed to public health departments are restricted to certain programs, having additional funds available for these types of situations have proven to be successful in making sure families get the help they need, said Pourtal-Stevens.

In addition to the auction, the event also featured live music, food and beverages as well as a raffle drawing and multiple presentations by local health officials and organizers.

Anyone interested in joining or learning more about the Coos County Friends of Public Health organization can visit its website at http://ccfoph.org/.

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