It is impossible to turn on the news these days without hearing stories of crises. Crises that are happening abroad, crises that are happening right here in our own country. Stories of families struggling to make ends meet due to war, or natural disaster. What many don’t realize is we have families right here in Helena who are struggling to make ends meet each month. Families who work multiple jobs and long hours to make sure they can provide for their families. Thanks to the early work of Marcia Wall in 1989, many of these families are supported through a program called The Angel Fund and some of Helena’s finest Angels.
If you have been shopping at Macy’s, Shopko, Target, TJ Maxx, or Walmart since October 2nd, you have most likely witnessed some of Helena’s Angels, without even knowing it! Over 800 Helena students (this year alone!) have benefitted from these Angels’ acts of kindness. These Angels have given hours of their time to go to these local stores to pay for school clothes for students who would otherwise go without. I would like to personally thank each and every one of these Angels, who have literally made this happen.
My name is Colette Ozburn, and I am the School Counselor at Warren Elementary School. I am also fortunate to serve as our school’s Angel Fund Coordinator. I am the lucky one who gets to witness the smiles on students’ faces as they “strut down the hall” in their new clothes and shoes. I am the lucky one who gets to hear the joy in parents’ voices when they find out their child will receive brand new school clothes and shoes – just like the other kids! I am the lucky one who earlier this fall received the biggest hug and smile from a little first grade boy, who coming in from a very cold recess exclaimed, “I am WARM!” (After receiving a new coat and snow boots through Angel Fund). I am the lucky one who witnessed the daily fashion show of a third grade girl, who had the utmost pride in her new wardrobe (after receiving new fall and winter attire through Angel Fund).
This fall, The Angel Fund began its 28th year serving the Helena community. Marcia Wall began the program in 1989, while serving as a school counselor at Helena Middle School. Since then, the non-profit organization has grown immensely in size. This fall, the Angel Fund started with a budget of $145,700, thanks to the outpouring of support from the Helena Community! Over 1,300 Helena area students (including students from East Helena, Boulder, Canyon Creek, Clancy, First Lutheran School, Lincoln, Montana City, Wolf Creek, and Townsend) started the year with brand new school supplies through “Stuff the Bus” campaign. Since 2010, 550 pairs of athletic shoes have been given to students through the “Running for Montana’s Future” program, which is coordinated by the Attorney General’s Office, Helena Police Department, and Angel Fund. This past spring, the Angel Fund awarded 15 high school graduates a Montana $1,000 scholarship as they begin their journey for a brighter future through higher education. When this year’s Angel Fund wraps up this year, it is estimated that 800+ students will have received new fall and winter school clothes.
The Angel Fund wouldn’t be nearly as successful without the wonderful support from our community. THANK YOU to each and every one of you who has donated to our program! THANK YOU to the churches and businesses who collected school supplies to help over 1,300 Helena area students with school supplies this year. THANK YOU to the Helena Police Department and the Attorney General’s Office, who partner with us to provide athletic shoes to Helena students. THANK YOU to the 23 Angel Coordinators at each Helena Public School, the 10 Angel volunteers who help the coordinators with the purchasing, and the 7 Angel Fund board members. And finally, THANK YOU to our Head Angel, Marcia Wall, for continuing to pour her heart and soul into helping our kids in Helena.
On Monday, November 27, please join us in celebrating our success and future at On Broadway! From 5:00-9:30 p.m., 50 percent of dinner orders will be donated to Angel Fund. Come and enjoy the delectable menu On Broadway has to offer. We will also have a Silent Auction, with over 15 incredible items to bid on. If you would like more information on Angel Fund, please visit the website at http://www.angelfundhelena.org. Angel Fund continues to spread kindness and joy and make a difference in the lives of children in need. Thank you for “paying it forward” and instilling hope in the hearts of our students. One day, they may become an Angel to someone else.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Colette Ozburn is the counselor and Angel Coordinator at Warren School.