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The American Red Cross of Montana has received one of its largest grants ever, worth $201,000.

The grant, which will be administered over the course of three years, was given to the Montana chapter of the Red Cross by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which has been supporting organizations around the northwestern United States since 1975.

The American Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization focused on sheltering, feeding and supporting victims of disasters. It also provides international humanitarian aid and supplies about 40 percent of the U.S.’s blood donations.

Diane Wright, executive director of the American Red Cross of Montana, said the grant will be used to add two more full-time employees, bringing the state’s total staff up to eight.

One of the new staff members will be dedicated to managing the more than 400 volunteers the Red Cross has in Montana, as well as recruiting new ones.

Wright said volunteers comprise more than 90 percent of the American Red Cross of Montana’s workforce.

“We serve all 56 counties, and we have a trained group of incredible volunteers dedicated to the work the Red Cross does,” she said.

The other new staff member will be a disaster response coordinator for the Kalispell and northwest Montana region.

Wright said that while many people think of the Red Cross as responding to large-scale incidents like floods and wildfires, it regularly works with the victims of smaller incidents including house fires.

“In Montana, on average, we respond to a call once every 28 hours,” she said.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.