GREAT FALLS — On December 9, 2021, KRTV teamed up with the Salvation Army, Toys For Tots, and the Great Falls Community Food Bank for the 14th annual Day Of Giving - and the community came through to help spread holiday cheer.
“It was definitely one of the best Day of Giving’s for us,” said Shaun Tatarka, director of the Great Falls Community Food Bank.
"While this one of the most generous communities I’ve ever been a part of, I honestly didn’t expect us to raise that much. I think people realize that the need is just as great, if not more and have come to trust the three organizations that were represented that day,” said Mark King of the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army raised $2,400, making it a record-breaking Day of Giving event for the organization. According to King, the organization’s previous highest Day of Giving total was $1,281 in 2017. In 2019, $895 was raised, and in 2018 people donated $1,225.
King said he isn’t sure what led to this year’s fundraising success: “It just could be that our community recognizes that there are still folks in need, who on top of their needs are dealing with issues like Covid, the flu, out of work, struggling to make ends meet and pay their bills."
Donations will be used right away to help provide food and gifts for 436 families the Salvation Army is assisting this holiday season.
Toys For Tots saw an increase in monetary donations at this year’s Day of Giving, but Marylou Brewster said toy donations were down.
"We got $2,601 in money that we will put to buy toys. We received 1,056 toys,” Brewster said.
Her team is distributing toys to around 4,000 children through 30 agencies. “We got money so we’ll do the shopping and fill in where we need it,” explained Brewster.
The Great Falls Community Food Bank raised more than $3,500 and received about 3,000 pounds of food on the Day of Giving.
"It was a really great day for us. I think those are both records, so it was really awesome,” said Tatarka.
Donations are being used immediately to feed people this Christmas.
"Right now, you don’t a case of canned fruit say, eventually what’s going to happen is one of our 70 plus agencies is going to pick that up and distribute it to those in need. There’s going to be several families that have canned fruit on their table at Christmas time,” Tatarka explained.
“These have been tough years and Cascade County has not let their fellow neighbors down in any way,” Tatarka said.