In these times of limited funds and charities asking for donations, I would like to ask the citizens of Helena to consider one charity in particular this holiday season: The Angel Fund.

The Angel Fund purchases mostly school clothing, footwear, supplies for school projects, field trip fees and other required items needed for school. It also awards Montana post-secondary scholarships to graduating seniors at all Helena high schools based on academic success and financial need. This is one of the truly non-profit organizations in Helena. It was founded and is presided over by one dedicated woman, Marcia Wall, who desires to make a difference in a child's life. It is her life's passion.

Currently, there are 21 Angel coordinators volunteering their time to help needy children in their schools. The Angel Fund also has a six-member Board of Directors that meets quarterly each year. Marcia began giving to children on her own, over 19 years ago as she saw young children and teens go without needed items. These children had "fallen through the cracks" through no fault of their own. Their families could not provide basic clothing or participation in activities due to financial stress in their families. The Angel Fund has grown from its meager beginning of a few donated dollars, to where it is today: a Non-Profit 501(c)3 Public Charity Corporation which has directly assisted Helena students over $63,000 just this school year. Each year the need grows. They have had an increase of 70 percent for money spent from last year.

The dream of giving academic scholarships has become a reality! Education is the key to success! The Angel Fund's philosophy of "Pay it Forward" instills generosity and community. They strive to give children hope and help build their self-esteem so that some day they too will give back to their community - the kindness that was shown to them will be passed on to others.

This statement comes from the heart and comes from a young girl who was raised in a divorced single parent home many years ago. This girl was the middle child who wore hand-me-down clothes. She was not offered any scholarship, nor was she even considered "college material" by her high school counselor because of finances. There was no benefactor who assisted her and she went without many times. Through no fault of her own, she lived in a world that would be termed poverty by today's standards. She was watched over and partially raised by her older sister and encouraged by a grandmother who gave her and her two sisters love, a positive outlook on life, a passion for helping others and the ability to believe in yourself. This little girl grew up to earn a master's degree, to become a school counselor helping thousands of children and a beautiful woman who HAS made a difference in this community. She knows from first-hand experience what it feels like to be one of those needy children. How do I know this? I am her sister, her friend and her greatest cheerleader. Please donate to the Angel Fund this season! Help a child or teen in need. Your donations mean so much! Show a child in Helena that someone out there believes in them!

Donations may be sent to: The Angel Fund, P.O. Box 7436, Helena, MT 59604.

Connie S. Vergine

5 Strawberry Court

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