HELENA — Helena Food Share has adapted to the pandemic and is making a big push digitally this year to meet the increased need in the community.
The food pantry aims to raise enough money to supply at least 2,500 holiday meals to local families. People are encouraged to donate $25, the cost of a turkey, or more on Friday Nov. 20.
As of 5:30 p.m. on Friday, the event has raised enough money to supply more than 2,880 meals to families in need!
Hundreds of businesses threw in their support this year. SoFi held a friendly competition among their employees and raised $53,522 for Helena Food Share. Rick Cochrane of Cochrane Insurance initially pleaged to match $5000 donated by individuals, but increased it by an additional $5000 mid-day after seeing how well the event was doing.
The event had traditionally been held with the Lewis and Clark Library where they’d collect frozen turkeys. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the event to the digital domain, but also created an increased need for a lot of families.
“People unfortunately as a result of the pandemic who are out of work, not able to work or are really struggling,” said Helena Food Share Executive Director Bruce Day. “Those who have come in and just knowing that they had access to food here in Helena and then signing up for a Thanksgiving meal, it’s been really special for them.”
(MTN's Andy Curtis and Helena Food Share Executive Director Bruce Day at past Turkey Challenge)
All money raised stays right in the Helena area to feed families facing hunger. Food Share believes no one should have to choose between a meal on the table and making other payments.
Anyone can sign up to receive a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal on Food Share’s website. No proof of income necessary.
On Friday the Helena Safeway was also holding their annual “Pie on the Face” fundraising event for the nonprofit.
Safeway and both Albertsons locations have been collecting donations with the goal of raising $20,000 for the food pantry by Thanksgiving Day.
Law enforcement and other prominent community members were taking whip cream pies to the face for every $20 donated on Friday. Social distancing was followed with participants masked up.
Safeway Assistant Manager Eric Dowell says he’s always proud to support Helena Food Share and their mission, getting a pie to the face is the least he could do.
“It’s a great cause and every dollar stays right here in Helena to help families,” said Dowell. “There’s a lot of families in need this year and any help goes a long way.”
Hunger has always been a challenge for our community. Before COVID-19 reached Montana, around 1 in 7 people in the greater Helena area faces some form of food insecurity. Since March the number of families needing support has only increased.
Anyone struggling to get food on the table should know help will always be available through Helena Food Share as long as their doors remain open.
More information about services provided by Helena Food Share can be found here.