GREAT FALLS — On a normal spring day, the gym at the Boys & Girls Club of Cascade County would be teeming with kids. But today is not a normal day, and these are not normal times.
“This place is normally so loud, it’s so quiet in comparison,” admitted BGC-CC executive director Sonya Smith.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the was repurposed overnight. Instead of basketballs, there are boxes. Instead of art projects, there are sack lunches.
But the mission – helping young people reach their full potential – remains the same. It’s just implemented through different means.
“We had to switch gears really, really quickly with everything that went on,” Smith said. “We knew just from serving our families, that there is a great need for food services. Food insecurity is larger than people realize.”
So, Smith and her staff had to shift fast. They jumped right into providing emergency food services to kids and their families.
Support from businesses and the community arrived swiftly, and overwhelmingly.
“That part has been amazing,” Smith said. “Not just for us, but for other non-profits or people providing emergency services. The whole community has stepped up, but for us, we have some really great partners.”
The Club received donations from Sunburst Unlimited, 2J’s Fresh Market, the Fair Haven Hutterite Colony, Albertson’s and the food pantry at St. Vincent De Paul. Thanks to that generosity, the Boys and Girls Club is able to provide meals to over 200 kids, and 100 households per day.
Kids like 14-year old Auston Threadgill, who lives just down the street from the club.
“It’s like another home for me,” he said. “When I have things going on, I can come here and tell them what’s going on, I can trust the staff here and it’s really fun here.”
And even though he can’t see them in person as much as he’d like, he knows the staff at the Boys and Girls Club have his back.
“They’ve been really helpful,” he said. “We haven’t had much food recently and now we have a lot of food.”
“As for the food delivery, we’re all in awe,” Smith added. “We’ve never seen this. Every single person who has ever received food from us is so appreciative, if that doesn’t fill your bucket, I don’t know what would.”
For more information and meal pick-up times, call the Boys and Girls Club office at (406) 761-1330