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CANtastic fundraiser returns to Great Falls

Fundraiser to be held at Holiday Village Mall in Great Falls March 18-19
CANtastic display
Shaun tatarka
Dana Freshly
Posted at 1:45 PM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 15:47:44-04

GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Community Food Bank's CANtastic fundraiser is returning for the first time in three years.

"Each packet will contain one container of the non-refrigerated milk," Great Falls Community Food Bank director Shaun Tatarka said describing some of the food the fundraiser helps provide.

Inside the food bank, you can find boxes and cans of these food items stacked on tables and ready to be placed into bags for kids at elementary schools in Great Falls.

"I think it's vital to our students," West Elementary School counselor Dana Freshly said of the food bags.

Freshly helps distribute the bags to kids in need at her school.

"We have about a hundred students a week who get a food backpack," said Freshly.

The food comes from the food bank's Backpacks4Kids program.

As of March 16, about half of the money to support the program, about $50,000, was expected to be raised by the food bank's 2023 Cantastic Fundraiser which includes displays at the Holiday Village Mall in Great Falls.

CANtastic display

"This is our major fundraiser where teams come to the mall and build structures out of canned foods. Of course, leading up to it we sell sponsorships for our Backpacks4Kids program," Tatarka said.

The displays are made by groups of volunteers.

"They have to buy the food to build their structures and they have to work closely with a local architect or engineer, who also volunteer their time, who we're extremely grateful for," Tatarka explained.

The Backpacks4Kids program provides students with food to take home on Fridays so they have something to eat on the weekends when they can't get meals from school.

"What I love about the food backpack program is that it is so discrete and we make sure the students who need it get it. They can always request. If they see me delivering them they can say 'Oh, can I get on that list?' and most of the time we don't even ask. We say 'Sure,'" Freshly said.

"The teachers and counselors are just in love with this program. They tell us it makes a huge difference in the classroom. Kids are no longer apprehensive about the weekend. They're coming to school on Monday mornings in better places, better ready to learn," Tatarka said.

The display in the mall will be available to view Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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