The giving tree 

Missoula’s yuletide spirit extended beyond frivolously pampering family this year to include gifts of necessity—food and wintertime clothing—for local charities and shelters. The collective contribution warmed what has become a snowy season.

Day mission Missoula 3:16 reported many donations from private citizens, which were put to good use at a well-fed Christmas party complete with gifts.

“We were pretty blessed this year. We fed everybody ham, mashed potatoes and peas,” volunteer Daniel Bates said. “Everybody who came through got presents of long underwear, gloves, hats, toiletries and T-shirts, too. Everybody was very positive and thankful.”

Allowing Missoulian’s to kill two birds with one stone, the Poverello Center’s 1,500 holiday gift mugs (compared with last year’s 1,000) moved quickly. Takers paid $15, which went to the Poverello, and were able to give the gift of a mug stuffed with $40 in coupons for local businesses.

“A number of new businesses wanted to contribute their coupon this year,” Director Joe Bishof said. “It’s a very nice program, and it doesn’t require a lot of manpower. We did as well as we expected on food and cash donations, given the current economic situation.”

Missoula Foodbank reported a successful 18th annual food drive this year, which ended on Christmas Eve. Their fundraising drive, however, was not as successful. The goal of 70,000 pounds of food and $70,000 was met with 66,453 pounds of food and $44,500.

The Foodbank, which gives out turkeys at Thanksgiving, doesn’t do anything special for Christmas. They keep doing what they do all year—allowing people to pick out the food they want.

“We let people shop for their own food,” Director Cynthia Lott said.

While communities tend to be most concerned with filling everybody’s belly during the Christmas season, Missoula’s charities carry on throughout the year.

“We appreciate the support of this community all year, not just Christmas time,” Lott said.

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