A new non-profit group in Stevensville will kick off its efforts with a holiday party on Saturday, December 7th at the newly reopened Plum Loco building, 201 Main in downtown Stevensville. Rob Ralls, new owner of the Plum Loco, has generously agreed to allow Project 59870 to use the currently empty restaurant-side of his building for the gala. Proceeds will benefit the Sharing Tree program.
Project 59870 was born out of a need identified by the leadership of the Stevensville Civic Club. The Civic Club, which has been serving the community for over 50 years and annually puts on the Creamery Picnic, is designated as a 501(c)(4) with the IRS. Although businesses can legitimately deduct their financial sponsorship of Civic Club events, not having the 501(c)(3) designation made it more difficult for individuals to make tax-deductible donations for club projects. Now, with the establishment of Project 59870, that stumbling block has been eliminated, for Civic Club projects as well as other projects of groups and individuals that might need a “pass through” organization.
Victoria Howell is the chair of the new group and Maureen Wali is serving as secretary/treasurer.
“We just wanted to make sure that there is a way to help people and groups in our community who have good ideas,” said Howell. “Our board also has lots of expertise, and history in the community, which can be really valuable for helping good projects come to fruition.”
The mission statement of Project 59870 is “to support projects that benefit the general health, safety, welfare and quality of life of the residents of the 59870 zip code through facilitation and funding of worthy groups and individuals.”
To that end, the group has chosen the Sharing Tree program as its first “project.” The Sharing Tree collects new clothing for children to be distributed along with food (through Pantry Partners) and toys (through Toys for Tots) during the holiday season.
Project 59870 identified the Sharing Tree as a perfect fit for its kick-off project. The Sharing Tree provides new clothing, blankets and hygiene items to children ages 18 and under, still in school and living at home.
During October, November and December, needy families can apply at Pantry Partners to become a Sharing Tree recipient. Tags with children’s sizes are then prepared and made available at area banks and churches for generous members of the public to select. Using the tag as a guide, people shop for the needed items. Typically, the items are two shirts and two pairs of pants, but sometimes other specific items such as a winter coat or boots, are listed. You can also choose another item to go with the clothing, such as a toy.
Beth Perkins, who runs the Sharing Tree program along with Linda Page, says they try to make sure that each child in a family receives an equal number of gifts. If you want to buy more than clothing items, you might like to sponsor an entire family. The tags are coded so that you can see when children are in the same family (for example, AA1, AA2, AA3 are three children from one family).
The children served by the Sharing Tree also receive new toys and stocking stuffers through Toys for Tots.
According to Perkins, extra clothing items and toys are always needed to give to those children who do not receive the same number of gifts as their siblings, or for those children whose tags were not selected.
The money raised at Project 59870’s upcoming holiday gala will go towards purchases of any items still needed to make sure all the children in our community have a nice Christmas.
The holiday party on December 7th will include food, beverages, music, auctions, raffles, door prizes and some fun contests. Everyone is welcome. Tickets are just $20 per person. For reservations or more information contact Victoria at 777-3928 or text her at 207-8793, or call Maureen at 369-4042.
Attendees at the gala will also get to vote on potential ideas for Project 59870’s future efforts. Although no decisions have been made, some ideas that have already been discussed by the Civic Club and passed on to Project 59870 include replacement and maintenance of downtown trees, children’s splash deck or water feature at Lewis & Clark Park, new swimming pool, wayfinding signage, and new holiday lighting.
Perkins said she is really excited that Project 59870 chose the Sharing Tree as its first project. She also wanted to remind people that a Gift & Food Drive is being held on Saturday, November 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Super 1 Foods in Stevensville. The Ravalli County Rodeo Queen, Princess, Little Miss and Miss Rodeo Spirit will be on hand to collect new warm winter clothing (ages 0 to 18, all sizes), personal hygiene items, unwrapped toys, and non-perishable food items. Pantry Partners Food Bank specifically requests the following canned and non-perishable items: canned chili, pineapple, mandarin oranges, carrots, chicken broth and cold kids cereal such as Raisin Bran. Sharing Tree is collecting new winter coats, hats, gloves, snow boots, snow pants, long-sleeved shirts, pants/sweats/jeans, warm pajamas (footed), underwear and socks. Blankets and bedding are also accepted. Toys for Tots – any unwrapped toys or games – ones for older children are preferred. For more information on the Sharing Tree, contact Beth Perkins at 207-5748.