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Community briefs: Applicants sought for college scholarships; BackPack Jersey Day raises funds for food; student achievement news

Community briefs: Applicants sought for college scholarships; BackPack Jersey Day raises funds for food; student achievement news

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Jersey Day event raises money for food banks

BackPack Jersey Day is an annual statewide fundraising event for Montana Food Bank Network’s BackPack Program; a vital food access program that distributes easy-to-prepare, shelf-stable meals to children to take home on the weekends when school meals are not available.

In an effort to fight childhood hunger and food insecurity in Montana, Montana Food Bank Network launched the BackPack Program in 2007. Since then, the program has grown to include 131 participating school locations across the state, reaching nearly 5,000 students in need. Participating schools work with Montana Food Bank Network and local non-profit partners to discreetly distribute BackPack meals to children, who have been referred by school faculty and staff, every week during the school year.

This year, BackPack Jersey Day will take place on Friday, Feb. 5. Individuals and communities across Montana will have the opportunity to donate directly to their local BackPack program while raising awareness of the program by wearing a favorite team jersey.

A $5 donation will provide one BackPack bag for a student, and $160 will provide a student with BackPack bags for the entire school year. Any amount supports your local BackPack program. To find out more and to donate, go to:

For additional information about the BackPack Program or Jersey Day you can visit or contact Erika Berglund, Programs Coordinator, at, 406-541-4874.

Powers of attorney topic of Bridges Buffet program

Helena Community Connections’ Bridges Buffet programs are only being offered virtually during this COVID time. Bridges Buffet is one of HCC’s life enrichment programs for everyone over 50.

The February 2021 program is all about Durable Powers of Attorney. Helena lawyer, Susan Gecho Gobbs, talks about all of the specifics contained within DPAs. Gobbs has a private law practice and also is a contractor with the Senior and Long Term Care Division at the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

HCC board member, Nanette Whitman Holmes interviewed Gobbs. All virtual HCC events can be viewed at; click on the virtual events tab on the home page. For questions, complete the contact us form on the website.

Optimist Club of Helena sponsoring oratorical contest

The Optimist Club of Helena is hosting an oratorical contest that is the first step in the contest sponsored by Optimist International. The competition starts at the club level, progresses to the zone and/or district regional level, and the district level (the district includes Montana, part of northern Wyoming, Alberta, and Saskatchewan).

A district winner will advance to the world regional level and ends with the world championship. There are scholarships awarded at the district, world regional, and championship levels. Helena contestants have earned a scholarship competing in the district contest in each of the past two years.

Two contestants from the local club contest (tentative March 20) will advance to the zone level which will likely occur in April (TBD). Because of COVID-19, this year’s contest will most likely be held virtually at all levels. The contest is open to youth under the age of 19 as of Oct. 1, 2020, and not enrolled as a degree seeking student of a post-secondary institution.

Interested youth should prepare a 4 to 5 minute speech to be presented at the local Optimist Club’s contest. The topic of the speech must be: “Healing The World With Optimism.”

An application for entry for each contestant must be received by the local club by March 1st. For questions or an application, call or text Jon Moe at 406-439-4284.

AFA offering college scholarship  

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is offering scholarships to college-bound high school seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease of up to $5,000 as part of its annual Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest. Entries can be submitted at and must be received by Feb. 15.

AFA’s scholarship essay contest invites high school seniors to write a 1,200 to 1,500-word essay that describes how Alzheimer’s disease impacted themselves, their families or their communities, and what they have learned from their experiences. Caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s, volunteering or working at a care setting, raising Alzheimer’s awareness or conducting research about Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses are all experiences that teens are invited to share. 

The grand prize winner will receive a $5,000 college scholarship. Prizes will also be awarded for first-runner-up ($2,500), second-runner-up ($1,500), and honorable mentions (between $1,000 and $400). Since the program’s inception, nearly $300,000 in college scholarships have been awarded.

Additional information about the contest is available at

Individuals wishing to support this and other programs and services for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease can do so by visiting or calling AFA at 866-232-8484.

MCF scholarship applications now available

Applications for Montana Community Foundation scholarships for the 2021-22 academic year are now available for Montana students. Last year, MCF awarded nearly $500,000 in scholarships to 168 Montana students throughout our state. These scholarships are made possible by the generous donors who have established scholarship funds at MCF.

Scholarship awards generally range between $500 and $20,000, some of which are renewable for multiple years. Qualifications vary widely, resulting in scholarship eligibility for a diverse range of students. Both traditional and nontraditional Montana students are encouraged to apply. Students can apply online with a submission deadline for most applications of March 19, 2021.

To apply or for detailed information on eligibility, deadlines, and awards for specific scholarships, visit or contact Scholarship Manager Jenny Lou Stark at 406-441-4946 or

For guidance counselors and others interested in promoting these scholarships to their students, marketing materials are available by contacting Communications and Outreach Manager, Teal Whitaker, at 406-581-8976 or


Laura Roberts, whose major is listed as biomedical engineering, and Kara Steab, whose major is listed as civil engineering, have been named to the fall 2020 dean's list at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. To qualify, students must earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher in at least 12 graded credit hours during any one term. Both Roberts and Steab are from East Helena.

Benjamin Bode, of Helena, a freshman at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been named to the college's dean's list for the fall 2020 semester. 

Caylor Cox, of Helena, has been selected to the fall 2020 dean's list at the University of Jamestown in Jamestown, North Dakota. Students named to the list must maintain semester GPA of 3.50 or better.

Jordyn Everson, of East Helena, was named to the fall 2020 dean's list at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas.  To qualify, students must earn a GPA of 3.25 or higher and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours.

Lauren Hanson, of Helena, has been named to the fall 2020 dean's list at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The list recognizes full-time students who have a minimum of 12 credit hours with grade-point averages at 3.5 or above.

Allie Hicks, of Helena, has been named to the  president's list for the 2020 fall semester at Dickinson State University in Dickinson, North Dakota. Eligible students must have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours with a term GPA of 3.9 or above.


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