The Kindness of Giving

By Beacon Staff

Over 1 million political television advertisements and the estimated $6 billion spent on nationwide elections produced no landmark changes. Advertisers undoubtedly benefited from the stimulus of secret money spending, but people were stung by a relentless barrage of undisclosed politics.

In the end, all the money in the world was no match for an effective ground game to mobilize people to the polls.

With another election in the rear view mirror, the season of charitable giving is upon Montana.

It is the spirit of giving that embodies who we are as a people and exemplifies our commitment to humanity. Montana is home to nearly 75 charitable foundations and over 6,000 nonprofits. The foundations manage $80 million in assets and donate $4 million annually to deserving organizations.

In the Flathead, giving is exemplified by the Whitefish Community Foundation, the Flathead Community Foundation and the Cinnabar Foundation.

In the past five years, the Flathead Community Foundation has donated $400,000 to organizations in the valley. This year, the Whitefish Community Foundation set a record with a whopping $345,000 given to nearly 90 organizations.

The Cinnabar Foundation manages $9 million in assets and donated to 92 organizations, schools and university programs.

“We like to invest in groups and projects with enthusiastic volunteers and active memberships. We look for projects that collaboratively engage diverse citizens to work together to protect Montana’s special outdoor heritage and way of life,” wrote Cinnabar’s director Steve Thompson.

Montana has a charitable endowment income tax credit approaching $2 million, which 600 people used in 2010. But a tax credit is no match for individual donations, which people willingly give directly to organizations.

There are many great not-for-profit organizations working in the Flathead. These can be scholarship programs offered by the WAVE Aquatic and Fitness Center or the Shepherd’s Hand Free Clinic, which provides medical aid for people without access to health care.

In this time of holiday giving, people should focus on the needs that families have during a long cold winter.

The North Valley Food Bank has been run by volunteers for decades. They distribute food to hungry people year round. June Munski-Feenan is the 80-year-old powerhouse and firecracker behind the nonprofit and deserves your help to secure a better facility and more food to distribute to hungry families.

Currently, the food bank distributes 340,000 pounds of food annually, serving up to 150 households weekly. There is no finer or more deserving organization. Find them at www.northvalleyfoodbank.org.

Farm Hands/Nourish the Flathead was founded by farmers, eaters, business leaders and food system planners in the valley. They work on growing more local food and making it accessible to everyone.

This group publishes the Farm Hands agriculture map of valley farmers, manages food dollars (SNAP) at select farmer’s markets, and partnered with the Flathead Valley Community College to work towards more food security. Find them at www.nourishtheflathead.org.

Whitefish Legacy Partners is the working muscle behind the recreation endeavor to secure public lands into the future. The Doris Schumm Community Spirit Award was recently presented to the organization by the Whitefish Community Foundation.

Legacy Partners are the people who built the Whitefish Trail and shepherded the conservation, education, and recreational effort to protect thousands of acres of land in the Beaver and Murray Lake areas for generations to come. They are economic drivers. Become a “Friend of the Trail” at www.whitefishlegacy.org.

The holiday season is upon us. It is the people of the valley who are kind and generous. People give freely by volunteering to help others. It is our shared generosity that enriches our ties to community.

In this season, help those who help others by giving kindly to the nonprofits and foundations that serve Montana.

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