HELENA — Polaris’ contributions of nearly $1 million in off-road vehicles over the last nine years has expanded the Salvation Army’s disaster relief effort nationwide, whether a wildfire or the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 was no different as Polaris donated two off-road vehicles to the Salvation Army office that serves Great Falls and Helena.
The group says it will have an immediate impact on their disaster response services.
"We're very thrilled that Polaris has made this generous donation to us. It's going to equip us to have a deeper level of response for local disasters and work with other responders," says Major Phil Smith, The Helena Salvation Army Corps Officer/Administrator.
The Emergency Disaster Services Coordinator for the Helena Salvation Army says the vehicles will allow them to assist the Sheriff’s Office with search and rescue operations, or reach areas that may be difficult to access for reasons ranging from fires to floods.
“It will help get food supplies and other supplies up to the front lines now for the First Responders who are up on the front lines, where we didn't have access to, before with the vehicles. So it greatly enhances our ability to get deeper into the disaster and we're effectively serving not only the victims of the disaster but the first responders who are out there," says Joe Wojton, the coordinator.
Reaching the front lines was one of the biggest roadblocks for the Salvation Army’s response capabilities, which is why the vehicles have created so much excitement.
"Anytime that you add tools to your tool chest to be able to provide better service during a disaster, it's a wonderful feeling,” says Wojton. “This takes us to the next level. It really lets us be able to get into the front lines of the disaster now and that's a great feeling when you're trying to help as many people as possible."
The Salvation Army says they will utilize the vehicles immediately and one vehicle will go to the Great Falls Salvation Army.