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Missoulian editorial: Community is generous to those in need

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Elks Donation 2

The Missoula Elks Lodge donated more than $4,000 worth of winter clothing for MCPS students experiencing homelessness.

Stockings full of huckleberries to the Missoula community for generously donating to people in need.

In the latest example, the Missoula Elks Lodge donated more than $4,000 worth of winter clothing items to Missoula County Public Schools on Wednesday to support students and families experiencing homelessness.

The Elks bought snow boots, snow pants, jackets, sweatshirts and other cold-weather necessities for the Families in Transition program. Despite the large gift, donations are always appreciated. There’s a constant need for clothing, tennis shoes, school supplies, gift cards to local grocery stores and other food items.

More than 300 students experienced homelessness in the school district during the 2019-2020 school year. That number rose to 500 in 2020-2021. 

“... Our goal is truly to meet the needs of our youth here in Missoula," said local Elks leader Bobby Smith when presenting the donated items. "As we all know the need is extreme and we understand that what’s behind me is just going to make a small dent.” 

Another example is Holidays We Care, a column that runs regularly in the Missoulian between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Several local nonprofits use it to list some of the specific needs of struggling individuals and families.

We Care offers a way to make a direct difference in the lives of our neighbors. A warm coat. Gas money. A phone card. Diapers. The requests might not seem like much, but for those on the receiving end, a little help can make a world of difference.

The nonprofits report that the generosity of Missoulians has been overwhelming.

"To the community of Missoula — thank you all for your support, donations and contributions during this time of need for our clients," said Melanie Edwards at Winds of Change. "Your generosity is so greatly appreciated, not only by the staff but all of our clients and their families in which your efforts having been helping."

2021 has been a tough year for many people. As Christmas approaches, we appreciate the generosity of those benefactors willing to help the less fortunate. 

If you'd like to donate to We Care, or are looking for an agency in need to donate to, contact Tandy Neighbor at 406-523-5205 or tandy.neighbor@missoulian.com.

Concerned chokecherries to the news that short staffing, inadequate training and an unqualified administration have resulted in an exodus of employees from the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs.

About 40% of full-time positions at the facility are vacant. Current and former employees say that puts patient care in jeopardy at the only state-operated psychiatric hospital in Montana.

It's tough to adequately staff medical facilities in the best of times, and even more so in the middle of a pandemic. But letters from hospital employees to state lawmakers say the working conditions and loss of staff are the products not just of a competitive labor market, but cold and retaliatory leadership, headed by administrator Kyle Fouts. He holds no medical degrees or previous hospital experience.

The Montana Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee has proposed a panel hearing on the conditions at Warm Springs for its next meeting Jan. 20-21. Let's hope that corrective action is decisive and swift.

"I am asking you to please look into these allegations immediately before we lose our workforce and someone, God forbid, gets hurt or killed,” wrote Mark Sweeney, a state senator from Anaconda.

This editorial represents the view of the Missoulian's editorial board — Publisher Jim Strauss and Executive Editor Jim Van Nostrand.

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