Cross-Pollinating for Charity

Local nonprofits Flathead Cancer Aid Services and Stumptown Art Studio are collaborating to raise awareness for the Great Fish Community Challenge

By Maggie Dresser
Painted rocks from Stumptown Art Studio are hidden around Whitefish with information on the underside to spread awareness about Flathead Cancer Aid Services, as part of the Great Fish Community Challenge, a charitable giving campaign, as seen on August 28, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

To kick off the Great Fish Community Challenge, a charitable giving campaign organized through the Whitefish Community Foundation, Flathead Cancer Aid Services (FCAS) and Stumptown Art Studio have collaborated to paint more than 100 butterfly rocks for a scavenger hunt called “The Art of Healing.”

Community members can search all around Whitefish, from the golf course to the trails, for the butterfly rocks, which represent the metamorphism of healing in cancer patients. If a rock is found, the winner can bring it into Stumptown Art Studio where they spin a prize wheel and learn about FCAS and other nonprofits participating in The Great Fish Challenge.

“The community foundation loves when you cross-pollinate and collaborate to bring in new donors,” FCAS co-founder Marcie Jackson said. “For us, it was really for awareness and also maybe to generate some money into the Great Fish for any of the organizations.”

Eight years ago, Jackson and co-founder Sandy Shaw, both breast cancer survivors, formed the nonprofit to help cancer patients with their nonmedical bills, like mortgages, transportation and hotels. FCAS has provided services to more than 200 cancer patients since it started.

“We fund them financially because we understand that cancer takes a big financial toll on a family or individual,” Jackson said. “If they can’t get their income, we pay their nonmedical bills so they can continue to get treatment.”

While “The Art of Healing” involves FCAS and Stumptown Art Studio, organizers also hope to raise awareness for all of the nonprofits participating in the Great Fish Challenge.

As of Aug. 31, the campaign had raised more than $1.1 million since it launched on July 30.

“We are seeing gifts from all over the Flathead, across the state and a lot from out of state addresses,” Whitefish Community Foundation President Linda Engh-Grady said in a press release.

With “Pop-Up Donation Stations” around the Flathead, people can drop off donations and be entered in a drawing for a chance to win $500 for the nonprofit of their choice. An additional $500 weekly incentive grant is awarded each week to the charity that has the most donors that week.

Now in its sixth year, the Great Fish Challenge has raised more than $9 million for more than 63 nonprofits.

The Whitefish Community Foundation is also accepting applications for the Community Grant Program, which has given more than $1.74 million to local nonprofits. The program “provides a solid stepping stone for nonprofits interested in applying to participate in the 2021 Great Fish Community Challenge.”

To donate, visit Checks can be mailed to Whitefish Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1060, Whitefish, MT 59937 or dropped off at 214 Second St. W. in Whitefish.

The Great Fish Challenge ends on Sept. 18 at 5 p.m.

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