The Wild Rivers Community Foundation distributed $13,400 to 22 nonprofit organizations in Del Norte and Curry counties Wednesday night as part of its annual holiday celebrations.
“The core of this is to bring every member of the community to the table,” said chairman Kevin Caldwell. “First, to take care of ourselves, and second to partner with our neighbors to make our community work better — a happy, healthy community. That’s where the magic is.”
The foundation seeks to serve the most vulnerable people in the community by soliciting funds for endowments and distributing funds to help the nonprofits.
Most of those who spoke at the Howonquet Community Center in Smith River indicated that, despite a slowly recovering economy, demands are higher than ever before.
“In ’08, the economy was in free-fall,” Caldwell said. “Our funders were freaking out. Their money was disappearing. They had nothing left to give. But the community comes together because everybody does their part.”
The Oasis Shelter Home, which provides shelter for victims of domestic violence, has seen a 25 percent increase in demand for its services.
“I will never forget the lady who was crying because she got towels and dish soap,” said Millie Ratzloff of the Del North Lighthouse Community Center, which collects, cleans and repairs clothing for school kids. “It’s been a miracle.”
This year, and especially because of the upcoming holidays, it was all about the children in the community.
The Oregon Coast Community Action’s Giving Tree got gifts for 300 children and provided food for 225 people. Its volunteers will use the funds to buy gifts for kids whose names weren’t taken from the Christmas tree.
“Without this grant, we would have been in real trouble,” said Rick Bremer, Post 966 commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “Last year, we had 1,715 children, from Langlois to Klamath. We collected 197 toys, 25 books and 2,005 stocking stuffers, and spent $7,784.”
The Smith River United Methodist’s Adopt-a-Child Program has 69 youth on its list for gifts.
Last year, Rural Human Services, through Santa’s Workshop, bought gifts for 1,325 children.
The biggest challenge many nonprofits face this year is food insecurity, as was evident in monies meted to organizations that have food banks or get food to elderly, disabled and children.
The Brookings-Harbor Community Helpers Food Bank makes snack-packs for students and donates food to 1,700 people each month in Curry and Coos counties.
Common Good, a food bank in Port Orford, will spend its money on 325 holiday baskets, of which 130 will go to seniors and 65 to children – in a city where 75 percent of students receive free lunches.
The Curry Fair Friends, which served 250 people Christmas dinner last year, plan to feed more than 350 this year, based on the 362 folks they served this Thanksgiving.
“If we each do our part,” Caldwell said. “If we all work together, we will all be OK.”
On the receiving end
Here is a list of the organizations receiving grants:
• Adventist Community Service Center “DORCAS”; gift cards to Safeway
• Elks Lodge No. 1934
• BiCoastal Media; Coats for Kids
• Brookings Harbor Community Helpers Food Bank
• Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Del Norte
• Chetco Activity Center’s Meals on Wheels
• Common Good, food bank in Port Orford
• Curry Fair Friends; holiday dinners
• Del Norte Child Care Council; child care needs
• Del Norte Community Thanksgiving
• Del Norte Lighthouse Community Center; school clothing
• Oasis Shelter; shelter for victims of domestic violence
• Oregon Coast Community Action’s Giving Tree; energy assistance
• Our Daily Bread Ministries; food bank
• Redwoods Family Worship Center; holiday dinners
• Reach Out Ministries Spirit at Christmas program
• Rural Human Services; Santa’s Workshop
• Smith River Rancheria Community and Family Services; high-risk kids
• Smith River United Methodist Church; Adopt-a-Child Program
• Marine Toys 4 Tots Foundation
• Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 956; veterans’ assistance
• Elks No. 1954