HELENA — Thanks to community partnerships, Montana’s Child and Family Services Division has newly furnished and supplied family visitation rooms.
On Monday, Toys for Tots volunteers in coordination with Set Free Motor Cycle Club, the Montana National Guard, Helena Police and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office drove more than 2,000 toys and other furnishings to the Arcade building as a donation of CFSD.
Many hands make light work, and it took the crew around 15 minutes to unload the entire trailer.
“Very cool to see the turnout,” said Helena Toys for Tots Coordinator Angie Fillinger. “Wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I love the biker community in Helena, they are very generous people. Always showing up when you need them too, so I’m very happy to see them here.”
The donation is part of an expanded effort nationwide from Toys for Tots to support children living in foster care beyond the holiday season.
“They’re one of those forgotten parts of childhood and we’re trying to make it better for them,” explained Toys for Tots Co-coordinator Howard Mears. “We still do our Toys program at Christmas time, we also have our efforts of literacy, but this is kind of a kick-off for the Toys for Tots Foster Care.”
In addition to the Toys for Tots donation, Buffalo Church supplied furnishings for the Helena visitation rooms in coordination with the DPHHS Office of Faith and Community Based Services.
The community partnerships were recognized Tuesday by Lt. Governor Kristen Juras and DPHHS Director Charlie Brereton.
Juras celebrated the work of the department and how these efforts help bring some normalcy to the children CFSD serves.
“We all know it’s just a heartbreaking and difficult time for the families involved. So the more that we can do to bring normalcy to their lives and just give them a bit of hope, that is what you have done here those these generous contributions,” said Juras. “... You’re making a difference. You may not see the enormity of it now but you truly are having an impact in the lives of these families.”
Brereton also praised the state’s faith and community-based partnership on the rooms which are key to the services CFS provides.
“They’re extremely important to the child welfare system,” noted Brereton. “They provide an opportunity for families and children, parents involved in the welfare system to reconvene, congregate and gather and so they’re critical to the department and to the state.”
According to DPHHS officials, the donated toys and refurbished rooms are extremely helpful during safe parenting times because it allows a way for parents and children to interact.
Additionally, the Dirty Dozen quilting group donated baby quilts and Mears announced the East Helena VFW will be donating $1,000 for car seats.
The Office of Faith and Community Bases Services works as a bridge between DPHHS and organizations that are looking to help with and provide services in their community.
The volunteers that worked on the CFSD donations possible are simply community members trying to improve the lives of those in need. A mission those volunteers plan to continue and expand as long as the need is there.