HELENA –  The Helena Food Share distributed hundreds of Thanksgiving meals on Monday thanks to efforts by volunteers and those who donated turkeys through the Lewis and Clark Library’s Turkey Challenge.

As of 3 p.m. Monday, the Food Share had provided 600 families with meals including turkey, bread, mashed potatoes, carrots, apples and more. Hannah Stiff, Communications Manager for the Helena Food Share, said the organization expects to serve around 850 families with Thanksgiving meals by Monday night.

Food share customers, including Helena resident Rachel Arnold, formed a line out the front door to receive the turkeys and side dishes. Arnold said expensive medical bills made a Thanksgiving dinner unlikely until she found out about the Food Share’s Thanksgiving program.

“We didn’t even know that they did this. We just came in and someone told us they could help us with the weekly food order. When we were coming through, they told us they were giving away turkeys and Thanksgiving dinner. I kid you not, my husband started crying. I just want to say thank you,” Arnold said. “[Otherwise] there would be no Thanksgiving dinner. There would be no turkey. There wouldn’t be no mashed potatoes.”

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Governor Steve Bullock and his family helped collect Turkeys at Friday’s event at the Lewis and Clark Library. On Monday, they visited the Food Share to help distribute the food.

“I think it’s extremely important to have the Food Share for this community,” Caroline Bullock, Governor Bullock’s daughter, said. “It really brings everyone together. Having a safe place like this to go makes sure that families can have Thanksgiving.”

Providing the meals is a community effort. Food Share Executive Director Bruce Day said during the month of November, around 400 volunteers helped at the Food Share, compared to a normal monthly average of between 200 and 250.

Last Thanksgiving, the Food Share provided more than 1,200 households with meals. Stiff added that the organization expects to meet or exceed that number this year.