Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Helena-area community briefs: Judy Martz statue; Operation Christmas Child drop off; NASA challenge; blood drives

Helena-area community briefs: Judy Martz statue; Operation Christmas Child drop off; NASA challenge; blood drives

  • 2


Drop-off site in Helena for shoebox gifts

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, many families are already thinking about Christmas. For those who are including Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts as part of their holiday, more than 4,000 drop-off sites are now open.

Shoebox gifts prepared by donors and filled with toys, hygiene items, and school supplies may be dropped off during National Collection Week, now through Nov. 23.

Shoeboxes can be dropped off in Helena at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church, 3580 N. Benton Ave., through Monday, Nov. 23.

Individuals and families making plans to participate can learn more about what to expect in this year’s curbside drop-off experience on the organization’s website at

Fundraising ongoing for statue honoring Martz

During the 2019 Montana legislative session, Sen. Al Olszewski presented a bill to honor Montana’s first woman governor with a bronze statue to be placed in the state Capitol.

The bill was passed by the 2019 legislature, and Gov. Steve Bullock signed the bill into law in a special ceremony. The private fundraising efforts began immediately to create a statue of Gov. Judy Martz. The Senate bill states the project should be completed with the statue installed in the Capitol no later than October 2024. Judy Martz served as lieutenant governor with Gov. Marc Racicot and became Montana’s first female governor in 2001.

After her tenure as governor, she sat on various boards, remaining active in all areas of life until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She passed away at the age of 74 on Oct. 30, 2017. 

The three-county Lewis and Clark Republican Women’s Club took on the challenge of helping with the fundraising needs with some of the dollars coming into the fund via donations from club members who live in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater counties. 

After a 2020 summer fundraising event, attended by family members of Judy Martz, along with a generous contribution by another individual, a check for $11,700 was recently presented to the Judy Martz statue committee.

The Lewis and Clark Republican Women’s Club is now concentrating on additional fundraising for their annual scholarship program. Announcements are forthcoming in February for applications for young women who are high school seniors.

Center to serve as regional hub for NASA challenge

In 2021, NASA will be launching two missions to study asteroids in our solar system. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, scheduled to launch for asteroid Didymos in July 2021, seeks to redirect Didymos’ “moonlet,” a small secondary object in orbit around the asteroid.

The Lucy mission, scheduled to launch in October 2021, will investigate the Trojan asteroids that trail Jupiter’s orbit.

In recognition of these missions, NASA’s annual student robotics challenges for 2020-2021 will focus on asteroid exploration. Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake will once again serve as a regional hub for the challenge.

The Challenge will engage students in grades 3 through 12 in interrelated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities designed to simulate a mission to the “snowman” feature on the Vesta asteroid. Vesta is the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Through activities, students will gain a better understanding of NASA’s missions and the impact of STEM in their own lives and communities. The activities also will aid participating students in their ongoing school studies, according to NESSP.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ROADS on Asteroids Challenge will be held virtually, in a manner similar to how the 2019-2020 ROADS on Mars Challenge was held.

Teachers have the option of incorporating into their class curriculum a course program developed by NESSP as a companion to the ROADS on Asteroids Challenge. Teachers can learn more about these offerings by visiting

Registration for the ROADS on Asteroids Challenge is free, and no experience is necessary to participate. Teams must have at least three student members and an adult coach, but may have as many additional student members and adult coaches as they want.

For more information about the ROADS on Asteroids Challenge, contact Ryan Hannahoe by email at or by phone at 406-475-3638, or visit To register a team for the Challenge, visit

Red Cross seeks blood donations

The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors of all blood types to give blood to ensure a strong blood supply for patients as the U.S. braces for flu season while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donation appointments can be made for the coming days and weeks by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The Red Cross will send those who come to give Oct. 15-Nov. 11 a $5 Gift Card via email, courtesy of Suburban Propane. Plus, those who come to give in October are automatically entered for a chance to win a $1,000 Gift Card. 

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:


Nov. 24: 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Mazurek Justice Bldg., 215 N. Sanders

Nov. 25: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Helena Donor Center, 3150 N. Montana, Suite B

Gifts from the Heart

Foundation For Animals promotes animal welfare

The Foundation For Animals mission is to assist well-managed projects that promote animal welfare, prevent animal suffering, and provide needed improvements for animals, both domestic and wild.

FFA’s emergency funds program has helped many lower-income pet owners in our community with emergency veterinary care expenses. For those pet owners who need financial assistance with the cost of altering their pets to prevent unwanted litters, FFA has helped fund local spay/neuter clinics and has an ongoing spay/neuter voucher program. FFA is one of several pet assistance programs in the Helena area and donations are always needed to help keep our neediest pets healthy and in their forever homes.

Donations to the Foundation For Animals also benefit wildlife. FFA is a long-time advocate for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ wildlife rehabilitation center adjacent to Spring Meadow Lake State Park in Helena. Through Foundation grants, FFA has contributed to many improvements at the center. Visit FFA’s new web site to view what your donations have already accomplished. Videos include views of eagle releases, a flight barn that was added to provide indoor flight exercise for injured raptors, and a much-viewed clip of bear cubs enjoying their outdoor jungle gyms.

Conservation education is also part of FFA’s mission as it directly affects Montana wildlife. Under the leadership of the Helena National Forest, Montana Discovery Foundation and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, FFA participates as one of the sponsors of the “Adopt-A-Species” conservation studies program in Helena area elementary schools. For over 20 years, this program has encouraged children to become future stewards of Montana wildlife and wildlife habitat.

FFA is dedicated to assisting programs that benefit animals. To receive the Foundation’s annual report newsletter, email FFA at Donations are welcome though PayPal or may be mailed to Foundation For Animals, P.O. Box 389, Helena, MT 59624.




Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News