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Donation boxes show up for LOFT

A drop box for the loft located in the Campus Center
Nicole Paris-Johnson | The Broadside A drop box for the loft located in the Campus Center

William James
The Broadside

Since Feb. 10th, cardboard boxes have been appearing around the campus of Central Oregon Community College. Some may be wondering exactly what these boxes are for.

They are the product of an effort spearheaded by COCC students and by Cascade Youth and Family center, to raise donations for residents of Living Options For Teens, also known as The LOFT, a non-profit living arrangement designed to provide aid to runaway, homeless and neglected children and teenagers.

“This is meant entirely to provide extra help for the kids and the teens at the Loft,” said Angela Ahmed, a student at COCC who has been heavily involved in the effort. She added that the Loft is not experiencing serious financial issues at present, just that she and the Youth and Family Center want to organize this effort to, “make things easier on them in this economy”, according to Ahmed.

According to the Cascade Youth and Family website, The Loft is “a maximum 18-month residency in a structured lifeskills modeling environment for 10-12 youth between the ages of 16 – 21. Each youth receives intensive case management services and a goal oriented transitional living plan, designed to develop strong life and interpersonal skills.” It goes on to state that the ultimate goal of the Loft is “Educational Completion and Vocational Training and Placement.

The overall goal for each client is successful transition into independent, self-sufficient living. “ Ahmed credited a story to News Channel 21 about the Loft as inspiration to start this project.

“I heard about the Loft on Z21, in a story about a young man who had been staying there and was now going to go on to college,” said Ahmed. “After I saw it we drew a proposal up for this donation project and presented it to our director, Pat Gundy, and when he heard about our idea he was very excited about the effort.”

Mr. Gundy has been working with the Cascade Youth and Family Center for three years, and has been its Program Director for a year and a half. “So far, [the drive] has been really well organized,” said Gundy of the donation efforts. “What I’m hoping for is two things — one, that these kids get what they need. The second thing is I am hoping
it will increase general awareness about the Loft.”

The boxes will be available around the COCC campus until March 4, but even after that date people who are interested in donating items can still bring them to the Youth and Family Center headquarters, and specify that their donation is for the Loft.

“I am just pretty passionate about helping people in this community”, says Ahmed. “There are young men & women that need just the littlest things. I don’t want people to be intimidated by thinking they need to make a huge monetary donation or something, just a few extra things will go a long way for these kids.”

Gundy also ruled out the possibility that this would be the only donation drive held at COCC. “We would absolutely love to do something like this again,” he said, “Maybe even get the student government involved somehow.”

For more information about this effort or other services, please contact Cascade Youth and Family Center Staff at (541)382-0934.

You can contact William James atwjames@cocc.edu

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