Volunteer Spotlight: East County H.E.L.P. Volunteer Katrina Thomas

Volunteer Spotlight: East County H.E.L.P. Volunteer Katrina Thomas

Posted on November 5, 2019

Toledo Area Homeless Education and Literacy Program Seeks Volunteers to Help Stuff Backpacks for our Food Insecure Families in Siletz, Eddyville, and Toledo

As they, “ooh,” and “ahh,” over the recent donations and full shelves, Katrina Thomas and her two sons prepare to load bags full of food for students to take home. The H.E.L.P. (Homeless Education and Literacy Project) Center in the East County sends home bags filled with food for students that are in need on a weekly basis. “I was surprised that this was an option. The need is massive,” Katrina says. “It doesn’t take that much time to stuff the bags once we get in the flow, only an hour.” Katrina chose to volunteer to teach her own children the importance of caring for their community. Debbie Haverland, East County HELP Outreach Worker, agrees that teaching the importance of volunteering at a young age is important. She describes volunteer Katrina as, “simply amazing.” Debbie says, “People don’t realize how great the need is.”

She highlighted the need for volunteers to help with organizing their clothing closet and more volunteers to help with preparing bags of food for students. She encourages prospective volunteers, “It can be really rewarding!” The year has just begun and both Debbie and Katrina are amazed at how long the list is of children in need of food for the weekend away from school. Community members who might like to partner or volunteer to stuff bags, or give their time in organizing the clothing closet, are actively sought. We want to support our families and youth in East County and we do not yet have sufficient volunteers. The contact information to learn more about how to volunteer with the HELP Program, contact Jutta Pearce – jutta.pearce@lincoln.k12.or.us – 541-574-9419.

Three years ago, Katey Townsend, LCSD McKinney Vento Program Coordinator, connected with Katrina Thomas about volunteer opportunities.  “We posted a volunteer need on our HELP Facebook page, and Katrina was quick to respond to volunteer. The H.E.L.P. Centers are a place to get “HELP” and be a helper.” The HELP Program served over 1112 children throughout Lincoln County School District last year. There are four HELP Centers located in each area of the county, East, West, South and North, serving eligible students and their families in that area. A student and/or their family are considered eligible for the HELP Program if they are living:

  • In an emergency or transitional shelter
  • In a motel or hotel
  • In cars, campgrounds, RV parks, abandoned buildings or an uninhabitable dwelling
  • With relatives, friends or others (including grandparents) due to economic hardship, loss of housing or a similar reason

The needs vary, however, each area of the county has specific needs that volunteers can fill. Mentors, tutors, helpers for evening events, guest speakers, supply organizers and more are requested. Katrina encourages community members to volunteer, “Do it! You don’t know who you are blessing on the other end.”

If you are interested in learning more about how you can support the children of LCSD, please attend our Trauma-Informed Care Training on Thursday, December 5th. The training will be held at the Newport High School Boone Center, 322 NE Eads St, from 6-7 pm. For any questions about the event or to learn more about how to volunteer with the HELP Program, contact Jutta Pearce – jutta.pearce@lincoln.k12.or.us – 541-574-9419.

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