Food Bank needs help, despite missing deadline for Great Fish Challenge

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People have asked me why the North Valley Food Bank is not in the Great Fish Challenge in 2018 and so I write to share some information and to ask for a bit of help in fundraising for the food bank. The short answer is that we love the Whitefish Community Foundation and we missed the deadline this year due to my personal loss.

I want to express my sincere thanks to the people of this community who have reached out to me with love and kindness due to the passing of my husband Mark King. Your support has helped immensely. I do need your help and I accept it gratefully.

Mark and I would have celebrated 19 years of marriage this August. His passing followed a long illness that was set to a fast track this winter. Mark fell in January and after a long winter battle and he passed away March 29 at home. Mark was my first thought and almost every thought this winter.

My employer, the North Valley Food Bank, gave me extra time off before I could even ask, as I cared for Mark at the hospital, at the Montana Veteran’s Home and at our home. Thank you.

This small town is a great town because it is full of good people and we take care of each other. The ambulance crew were our neighbors. The local doctors, nurses and hospital staff all took good care of us. Volunteers at the food bank covered all my work and sent me cards and flowers. My younger brother Ed took over my bills. Brothers James and Larry supported me emotionally. My Dad and Mom stayed with me for weeks. Friends, some I had not seen since high school, brought over meals and stayed with me. So many more acts of kindness came my way and I thank you all.

At the food bank we help hundreds of families and I am thankful to be back at work and to be back on the team that helps provide thousands of meals each week to folks who need help making ends meet. I ran into some of the people we help at the food bank and they stepped forward to help me. Sometimes we help, sometimes we need help.

Now I ask for a bit of help to assist others. While I was out of work we missed the deadline for our largest fundraiser, the Great Fish Challenge. The food bank supports the Great Fish Challenge and the Whitefish Community Foundation and wish the participating nonprofits all the best as they raise funds for their incredible programs.

The food bank has raised just under $50,000 each year through the Great Fish. We buy fresh produce and healthy foods with Great Fish donations, and were able to increase our spending on fresh produce by $10,000 a year as a result. The food bank is committed to our Healthy Foods Campaign and will continue increased purchase of fresh produce and healthy foods in 2018 and 2019, and we are going to need your support to make it happen. For those who donated in years past through the Great Fish Challenge and those who would like to donate for the first time, please know your donations are needed.

Mark and I were a team. He was there each day when I came home and when my work was too tough or too heavy, he was there to support me. Because he was there to help me, I was able to continue to help others. A “Memorial Tree” is growing at the food bank to honor Mark’s help and support at the food bank. I will enjoy watching the apple tree grow and one day our Memorial Orchard will bear lots of fruit. For now, we need your direct support to help raise the needed $50,000 for the healthy food campaign 2018 and 2019.

Donations can be sent to the North Valley Food Bank, 251 Flathead Avenue, or via PayPal at our website, www.northvalleyfoodbank.org.

The food bank supports the Great Fish and all the good that the participating nonprofits do in our community, and we plan to again participate in the Great Fish in the future.

SueAnn Grogan King is the executive director of the North Valley Food Bank.

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