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Habitat for Humanity wants your spare change

MEDFORD — Rather than be deterred by social distancing rules and restrictions on large gatherings, Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity officials are gearing up, if need be, to construct “House No. 73” with a mass emptying of piggy banks, change purses and mason jars.

Embracing the need for creative — not to mention safe and contact-free — fundraising amidst COVID-19 restrictions, Habitat for Humanity will host a “drive-thru change drive” Thursday.

Organizers said the fundraiser will address a regional and national coin shortage and keep the organization going during a tough time for most nonprofits in the region.

Founded in Georgia in 1976 — and brought to the Rogue Valley in 1987 — Habitat has built more than 70 homes in Southern Oregon and rehabilitated many others.

Despite the pandemic, said Programs and Operations Director Brandon Thoms, the organization’s important mission will go on. With in-person fundraisers and events on hold indefinitely, it was time for creativity, Thoms said.

“Banks are experiencing a coin crunch, and we are working hard to build much-needed affordable homes — why not knock out two local needs at once?” said Thoms, noting that the pandemic has primarily affected fundraising. Donations to the group’s Habitat ReStore have been steady.

“We are incredibly grateful, as we have still been receiving an amazing response from community members donating to the ReStore, which is an incredibly impactful revenue stream for our mission. Even with our decreased hours, the community has still been rising to the challenge with those needed donations,” Thoms said.

“But our single biggest hurdle has been that so many of our fundraising efforts directly relating to the mission involve telling our story and getting people together to hear our message.”

Thoms said it is a time to “think outside the box” in terms of generating funds.

“Because we haven’t been able to all come together, we’ve been just kind of trying to keep treading water and brainstorming ways to do things a little differently,” he said Tuesday.

“You can only have so many email chains or online raffles. Unfortunately, those kind of things become background noise pretty quickly, and we get that.”

The coin drive-thru, sponsored by US Bank, will take place at administrative offices for Habitat for Humanity, 2201 S. Pacific Highway, in Medford, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

US Bank District Manager and Vice President Brian Young, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer himself, said he was excited to support fundraising efforts to get people into needed housing.

“The most important thing for me has nothing to do with any coin shortage but everything to do with supporting an organization that has done so much good for our community,” Young said.

“I helped build a house on 10th Street last year and got the opportunity to meet the recipients of that home, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to be part of what Habitat is doing for these families. Not only does it make sense in terms of getting some coins back into circulation but it made a lot of sense from the aspect of making sure local organizations have what they need in terms of serving our community and supporting our community in important ways.”

Thoms said he was hopeful they could fill the specially made containers over the span of two days. If successful, he envisions a regular coin drive effort in various locations around the region.

Whatever it takes, Thoms said.

“Everything we do these days feels like it’s kind of a test. We know where we’re going, it just seems we may be in for some detours before we can get there,” he said.

“This is house number 73 for us, and it’s actually been my lucky number since I was a young kid, so I have very good feelings that this is all going to work out.”

He added, “It’s kind of been a little bit of a comforting aspect to this whole thing to know that we still have a mission and that the mission is going to be there when this is all behind us. We’ve been through trials before and we’ve made it through, and we will get through this, too!”

Coin drive participants are asked to follow cones and directional signs in front of Habitat offices. For more information, call 541-779-1983.

To donate online, see www.roguevalleyhabitat.org.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneMike Hanan, left, of Shady Cove, and Jim Brown, of Central Point, build a coin collector Tuesday while volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in Medford.