Angel Fund meets many needs in Helena
By GREG LEMON Independent Record
Published Wednesday, July 17, 2013
When Marcia Wall saw a need 24 years ago, she decided to make an effort to meet it. At the time, she was a counselor at Helena Middle School and noticed there were some kids in school who weren’t participating in gym class because they didn’t have any shoes, they didn’t go on field trips because their parents couldn’t afford it and they wore the same clothes day after day because that was all they had.
Wall thought back to her own childhood, growing up poor with a single mom and two sisters in eastern Montana. She knew what it was like not to have much. But she also thought of her grandmother, who gave her the encouragement and support to move beyond her poverty and go to college and find success.
With her grandmother in mind, Wall set out to meet the needs of the kids she saw struggling. She started The Angel Fund with the hope that she and other volunteers could be an angel to kids in need around Helena.
The fund started small under the umbrella of the Helena School District. She initially solicited money from friends ~ just $20 donations. She used the money to buy clothes and school supplies. But the need outpaced her donations every year and so she kept expanding her reach. Now, 24 years later, The Angel Fund is its own nonprofit and has a budget of $130,000. They help pay for school clothes for 800 students in Helena each year.
"Every person needs someone who actually believes in them,” Wall said.
The students served are low-income students within the district and must be on free/reduced lunch she added.
The Angel Fund also has at least one Angel coordinator in every school it reaches, a total of 25 Angel coordinators in all. The coordinators help identify kids who may need a little help, either some shoes or clothes and then work with Wall to meet their needs.
In addition to helping qualifying kids with new school clothes, Angel Fund also does an annual school supply drive called Stuff the Bus. This event has businesses and churches around Helena collecting school supplies, which get collected into one bus. Then on August 24 volunteers from schools around the area will come to the gym behind Bryant School and take items they need for the kids in their schools. The idea is to collect school supplies for students who can’t afford them.
And though the outpouring of support from the Helena community is great, the school supplies are always scooped up and readily distributed.
“We never have enough markers, we never have enough colored pencils,” Wall said. “And paper, paper, paper ~ glue sticks, scissors, Kleenex and the backpacks.”
Another program The Angel Fund is also involved in Running for Montana’s Future Race, which is sponsored by the Montana Attorney General’s office and the Helena Police Department. This year’s race is August 17 at 10 a.m. at Memorial Park. The race is a venue to raise money to buy shoes for kids in the Helena School District. The shoes are distributed by school resource officers to students in need.
Good shoes not only help with self-esteem, but promote healthy physical activity, Wall said.
We want to thank Wall and The Angel Fund for the work they do. They are often the behind-the-scenes volunteers who quietly step in when they see a need. It’s a Helena solution to a Helena problem and the kids they help with our donations are the kids who are part of the fabric of our great community.
For many of us good shoes, nice clothes and necessary school supplies seem like a regular part of life, but the fact is that for many in our community, those things are a luxury and The Angel Fund is there to help.
For more information and to find out how to donate or help, go online to www.angelfundhelena.org.
This article was included with permission from the Helena Independent Record.
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How to Donate
Your contribution allows The Angel Fund to continue helping children in the Helena School District. For more information or to make a donation:
Contact Janet RiisTo make an online donation, please use the button provided below.
P.O. Box 7436, Helena, MT 59604