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Community Outreach Inc. announced that the organization received a $35,000 grant this week from the Walmart Foundation.

Kari Whitacre, the executive director at COI, said the grant will help to pay for basic hygiene supplies and food, case management, day care expenses and transitional living classes to help families at the shelter at 865 N.W. Reiman Ave. Demand for such service is on the increase, especially for women, children and families, she said.

In July 2012, the nonprofit that started in 1971 restructured its dorms to accommodate 11 instead of 7 families. The expanded spaces have been steadily occupied ever since.

“We’re seeing more intact families who are experiencing homelessness for the first time,” Whitacre said. For instance, the father in an intact family with four children has a full-time job but does not earn enough money to pay enough to secure the first-and-last months’ rent that would allow his family to move out of the shelter.

COI operates a year-round emergency shelter for families.

Whitacre said the grant money also will help pay the salary of a family support specialist to help people improve life skills and work with the school district to identify families in danger of homelessness.

“Community Outreach’s transitional shelter for women and children fills an essential role by helping our neighbors get back on their feet,” said J.D. Fleming, the store manager of the Corvallis Walmart Neighborhood Market.

The contribution to Community Outreach Inc., was made possible through the Walmart Foundation’s Oregon State Giving Program. Last year, Walmart, Sam’s Club locations and the Walmart Foundation awarded more than $5.3 million to Oregon organizations.

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Theresa Novak is the city editor and opinion page editor at the Corvallis Gazette-Times. She can be reached at theresa.novak@lee.net or 541-758-9527.

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