A helping hand

Leaders of the Santa’s Workshop program accept a check from the Pelican Bay Athletic Organization.

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Pelican Bay Athletic Organization gets a new motto:  Local Strong!

PBAO began as a small non-profit in 1991, called Pelican Bay Athletic Association fund raising for CDC Olympics and Pelican Bay softball teams.  Early fundraisers included golf tournaments and souvenir sales of hats, coins, shirts and motorcycle poker rides.

Over the years, PBAO grew its volunteer base and expanded its support of community events by assisting with the annual Halloween Dance, Quarter Craze events and expanded partnerships with local youth sports in Del Norte and Curry counties.

Organizers were happy raising $1,000 here and there but knew there was a better way to support local youth organizations through bigger fundraising efforts at the prison. Karla Bauer from the Pelican Bay ROCK program was instrumental in helping PBAO with the only fundraiser allowed inside the prison: Pelican Bay Food Sales.   According to Vice President Mitch Jones, it’s a true win-win for local restaurants and local youth organizations, as all the food is ordered locally, supporting local businesses in Del Norte and Curry counties. 

Pelican Bay Food Sales is a massive organizational effort, with at least three months of preparation; taking food orders from inmates who wish to support the chosen nonprofit agency, followed by local food pickup and delivery to the prison. It typically takes two separate food distribution days over two weekends to complete one Food Sales fundraiser. But the profits are worth the effort.

Since the 2019 Pelican Bay Food Sales, PBAO has supported high school scholarship funds (Brookings and Del Norte), donated over $27,000 to Operation Santa, $6,500 to the Oasis Shelter and most recently, a surprise check for over $12,000 to CASA Del Norte.

The response from local restaurants and bakeries has been one of gratitude. To place an order for 2,700+ meals is a boost to their bottom line. The inmates are happy to participate and support the nonprofit recipient - resulting in elevated financial support of local youth athletics and programs. LOCAL STRONG!

PBAO is interested in adding new members to the organization. Pelican Bay staff and community members not associated with the prison are welcomed. Please reach out via the PBAO Facebook Page or contact

President Jim Holt.

The most recent Pelican Bay Food Sales check will be revealed on Friday, March 12.  



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