News & Features

Giving Back: 2018

Our annual issue recognizing locals whose giving and goodwill make the Flathead a little brighter

Our annual Giving Back issue recognizes locals whose giving and goodwill make the Flathead a little brighter.

While there are many folks with the giving spirit in the Flathead — that’s truly what makes this valley a community — here are some standouts we’re highlighting this year.

Thank you for all you do, and the Flathead Beacon wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Denise Holm helps George Lederer, a resident at the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls, select holiday gifts on Dec. 7. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

A Free Gift Store for Veterans

by Myers Reece

The American Legion Auxiliary’s local volunteers who run an annual Christmas gift program are tasked with a mission: provide presents for not only all 100-plus residents at the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls but also their families.

Mission accomplished every year.


Students in Dennis Latimer’s woodshop class made toys for children on Dec. 14. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Glacier’s Elves

by Tristan Scott

Throughout the course of four periods a day, the shop at Glacier High School has echoed with the sounds of saws and sanders, routers and wrenches as students transformed pieces of wood into sturdy wooden cars, trucks, excavators, and helicopters. Soon, the wooden toys will appear under Christmas trees or in stockings across the valley as part of the local Toys for Tots project that serves more than 1,000 Flathead families each year.


Josh Burt, pictured on Dec. 13. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Wheels for Josh

by Andy Viano

“I know he must have his down days but I’ve never seen it,” Lyn said. “He’s the most upbeat, positive kid I’ve ever met, and every single person that I’ve run into (says the same).”

The fundraising effort began in July with the Langstaffs strategizing what they would like to see delivered: A half-ton Chevy pickup with remote start, heated mirrors, Bluetooth capabilities, permanent wheelchair modifications and the first year of insurance covered.



Sue Janik, left, and Kathy Klocow organize donated items in the back room at the Soroptimist Thrift Haus in Whitefish on Dec. 13. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The Gift of a Smile

by Molly Priddy

The Soroptimist International Whitefish club is looking for women who are the heads of their households to apply for the Smile of Hope program. Sorensen, the Smile of Hope program organizer, said the program awards up to $2,000 in dental work to women who qualify thanks to a group of 11 local dentists.


George Bristol, special deputy with the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, pictured on Dec. 12. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Retired Marine Uses Tracking Skills to Bring Runaway Children Home

by Justin Franz

“In the military, the mission was to kill or capture,” Col. George Bristol says. “But here the mission is to get these kids back home safely. It’s a very different mission outcome, but the techniques (needed to complete) it are similar.”



If you enjoy stories like this one, please consider joining the Flathead Beacon Editor’s Club. For as little as $5 per month, Editor’s Club members support independent local journalism and earn a pipeline to Beacon journalists. Members also gain access to, where they will find exclusive content like deep dives into our biggest stories and a behind-the-scenes look at our newsroom.