Food bank funds, fair fun, fond farewells

Food bank funds, fair fun, fond farewells

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Filling huckleberries to various grants to the Montana Food Bank Network – a $50,000 Food Bank and Food Pantry Assistance Grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; a $50,000 Share Our Strength Emergency Grant; and a $25,000 donation from Clearwater Credit Union. With so many people unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, food banks are strained like never before. An extra spoonful of berries to programs such as Mail-A-Meal, which sends 30-pound boxes of nonperishable food to rural residents in need.

Huckleberry-hued running shoes to the would-be participants of the Missoula Marathon who, when this year's event was canceled due to the coronavirus, opted to donate their race fees — to the total of $23,000 – allowing Run Wild Missoula to continue its tradition of contributing to a variety of community groups. Those included the cross-country programs at Big Sky, Hellgate and Sentinel high schools, as well as the Missoula Food Bank, Missoula Youth Homes and Opportunity Resources.​

Leisurely servings of huckleberries to Montana Highway Patrol Missoula Division Capt. Jim Kitchin, heading into well-deserved retirement after 40 years of public service — 20 years in the Highway Patrol, and 20 years before that in the U.S. Army. “That’s pretty cool,” Kitchin said, reflecting on his career. We couldn’t agree more.

Huckleberries steeped in kindness to the family of Marvin Strombo, who died Tuesday at the age of 96. Strombo, a World War II veteran, showed extraordinary grace in in tracking down the family of a Japanese soldier who died on Saipan, so that he could return the “good luck” flag he took from the man’s body. With the help of the Oregon-based Obon Society, Strombo traveled to a Japanese village in 2017 to present the flag to Sadao Yasue's family.

Chokecherries to the rising numbers of Montanans testing positive for the coronavirus, including a Missoula firefighter this week. It’s a scary reminder that, even as summertime tempts us into relaxed attitudes, we can’t afford to let down our guard when it comes to this disease. Mask up, people — it's the least we can do to take care of one another.

Caring huckleberries to the Missoula City Council and Missoula County for committing up to $75,000 each to match a state grant for which they are jointly applying to establish a Mobile Crisis Response Team to provide the first response for people experiencing behavioral health crises. It’s a win-win — aiming mental health professionals at those issues and freeing up law enforcement to fight crime. 

Showers of huckleberries to Southgate Mall and the Missoula PaddleHeads for working hard to come up with ways to safely provide Fourth of July fireworks. Event organizers are coordinating with the City-County Health Department to guarantee social distancing during the displays that will provide a welcome continuation of summertime traditions.

Fried huckleberries to the Western Montana Fair for doing its best to go on under this year’s extremely challenging circumstances. Fair planners are considering measures like a televised rodeo, virtual still exhibits and closed 4-H and FFA livestock events. Alas, as intrigued as we are by the idea of fried huckleberries, don’t look for tater pigs, Vikings or cheese curds at this year’s fair. We’re tempted to throw chokecherries at the lack of food concessions, but seriously, it’s just one more way to keep people safe, so we’ll refrain.

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Missoulian editorial: In public buildings, in stores and in workplaces where distancing is impossible or impractical, all employees and customers should wear a face covering.  

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