GREAT FALLS — On Friday night, members of Leadership Great Falls met downtown to officially announce the results of their annual project.
Community figures ranging from fire rescue, to bankers, to Montana’s Air National Guard spent the last year raising money for Toby’s House Crisis Nursery.
Last night they announced a check for more than $60,000. The money was spent on a new van, a 2021 Toyota Sienna LE Hybrid.
“I really, you know, did not expect this. And then when they opened up the van and there are size five and size six diapers, there's car seats in there. Everything that I will need for the next ten years is in this van,” said Susi Zeak, director of Toby’s House.
Tammy Wajer, a C-130 navigator in the Montana Air National Guard, has been helping to raise the money for the past year.
“This is the most amazing experience to see all of our fundraising efforts and everything that we've done to provide for Toby's house, to give them something that they were lacking,” said Wajer.
For the Crisis Nursery, this changes their whole approach to critical care.
“We're really going to be able to ramp up our crisis care. You know, kids that are in immediate danger of abuse, we can come and pick them up,” said Zeak.
With recent tragedies surrounding youth in the community, Chamber of Commerce CEO Shane Etzwiler sees this donation as extremely fitting.
“We know that child abuse and and some of the deaths we've had in our community, it's just heartbreaking, it just truly is,” says Etzwiler. “What they've been able to do is raise money to give them a vehicle and also some money to buy supplies this year and gas cards, car washes, maintenance services, windshield repair, you name it. They've just done it all this year and they just really knocked it out of the park.”
Toby’s House was created in honor of October "Toby" Perez, a two-year-old girl who died at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend in 2011. The crisis nursery provides short-term care for children voluntarily brought there by a parent or legal guardian.
For more information, call 406-770-3191, or click here.
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