COOS BAY — A small audience gathered around a surfboard at the 7 Devils Brewery on Thursday afternoon.
"This surfboard has funded a scholarship," said Gloria Cole, who was leading the event.
The surfboard was a raffle prize, and a response to the pandemic. Members of Coos Bay's chapter of the Surfrider foundation, a nonprofit which focuses on protecting oceans and beaches, couldn't hold their annual fundraising gala this year due to COVID-19 precautions, so they raffled off the surfboard instead.
Cole, the group's scholarship committee chair, said the ability to raise the funds was still meaningful, even though it wasn't as much as the group would normally raise with a larger event.
"It means the world," Cole said. "They don't have to pay for that textbook now."
All told, the raffle tickets raised about $1,000 for the group's scholarship fund. Kyle Shellhammer, a Coos Bay surfboard shaper, made the board that the foundation purchased and raffled, and calls it a unique "vehicle of happiness."
He left a message for the winner on the bottom of the board, too: "Best surfer is the one having the most fun."
Since 2014, Cole says the group has given out around $22,000 to 20 students. This year, some members pitched in enough so it could afford to give out five scholarships.
The foundation will likely have a few other similar events to raise funds for scholarships, even though the group's main event had to be put on hold, Cole said.
"I went to college, I received scholarships, this is my way of paying it forward," she said. "These kids still want to go to school, they still want to do well."
The deadline for interested students to apply for the foundation's scholarships is April 25, 2021. The application is available on the organization's website at coosbay.surfrider.org, and donations can be made there as well.