MONTANA — Organizers of the Snowbird Fund this week introduced themselves to Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force (MMIP).
Missoula business woman Whitney Williams told the members of MMIP that the early response to the fund has been strong and that they have already received nearly $100,000 in the fund.
“I think people have been quite interested. We almost doubled the funding size in three weeks, which is incredible,” said Williams.
Williams and the Montana Community Foundation created the Snowbird Fund to quickly provide money to tribal families who have had a loved one reported missing.
Grants of $500 dollars or more can be used to help pay for costs related to searching for the missing from gas money to hotel stays, drones for searching, or awareness campaigns.
Task force members were grateful for the assistance the grants can provide to Native American families.
“It is truly a godsend to families, who are in their worst times of their lives when they are searching for loved ones,” says Ellie Bundy, a task force member “The fact that this will help them not have to worry so much about trying to gather money for paying gas or to make posters, those simple things, it is truly a godsend."
Organizers of the fund say in the three weeks since the fund was announced, they have already given two grants and that they will continue to focus on raising awareness in tribal communities that this money is there and available to help.
Data collected by MMIP Montana reporting shows Native Americans are four times more likely to go missing in the state. Some of those disappearances include Jermain Charlo, who was reported missing from Missoula in June of 2018, and Ashley Loring Heavy Runner, last seen in June of 2017 on the Blackfeet reservation.
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