Potomac community shares kindness

POTOMAC - The community of Potomac has proven resilient since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Since the spring, residents have donated, participated and benefited from the kindness and generosity of friends, neighbors and strangers. Residents banded together and worked hard to guarantee support for others including comfort, food and firewood.

Since March, Potomac School has been a link in the chain of giving. According to Potomac School secretary Janette Ployhar, volunteers served 110 breakfasts and lunches five days a week during the spring and summer months.

The food was paid for by a Federal USDA program. Anyone under the age of 18 is eligible including infants. Ployhar said recipients do not have to be a student at Potomac School. Presently, volunteers are sending out half a dozen boxes each week at no cost to the families. This program is continuing throughout the school year.

Some Potomac families look for and fill needs. The only way that giving is possible is with the help of others. The families asked for local donations and created Thanksgiving boxes for Potomac.

"Potomac is such a giving community," said Potomac residents Michelle Dunn and Natalie Howard.

Within an hour, the ladies were able to start putting together boxes of Thanksgiving foods including dinner items like butter and gravy to go along with the potatoes and turkeys.

Other residents have reached out to older community members who are isolated due to the pandemic.

Even local hunters are contributing. A cow elk was donated to Hunters Against Hunger after it was accidentally killed. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) was immediately contacted and helped make sure the meat was earmarked for Potomac families.

The Blackfoot Home and Community Club made their annual donation towards Thanksgiving foods for area residents who otherwise may go without. The food this year included fresh lettuce and pies to compliment offered meal fixings.

Potomac Valley 4-H Club is preparing to do their regular community outreach as well, thinking up extra-kind gifts to give. Every year the 4-H club comes up with something to make or buy for community members who may benefit from the gift. In the past, tea mixes, Christmas decorations and useful kitchen utensils have been made, purchased, decorated and given.

The Potomac Food Bank used the Grab and Go method outdoors to serve their clients during the spring and summer and followed COVID-19 guidelines. For the fall and winter months the team of volunteers declared they would follow the same principles but clients would be served inside the Potomac/Greenough Community Center. There is also a drop box location provided at Cully's.

Longtime Potomac resident and Blackfoot Telephone board member Les Iverson coordinated the Blackfoot Telephone donations to benefit this year's eighth grade class trip and the Potomac community. Iverson said the kids could do some community service as well as look ahead to their trip, so a firewood project was created.

According to Potomac School eighth grade parent Cliff Vann, Blackfoot agreed to purchase five cords of firewood but specified the class donate the wood to Potomac families who need firewood and were unable to get it on their own. Blackfoot Telephone likes to give back to the community, Iverson added.

Mark Cheff Logging donated the first log truck load of firewood and Floyd Ployhar Hauling donated the hauling. The students bought another log truck load of firewood with the Blackfoot donation and altogether split, delivered and stacked the two log truck loads of firewood.

Vann said, "It is a great and generous community we live in."

Firewood recipients were overcome to receive the firewood and were very grateful to the class for their generosity and kindness. Potomac eighth grader Brynn Nordberg said working together with her class was fun and the hard work was worth it.

"I think it's cool that we are supporting others while they are supporting us," she added.

Tim Kanaval of Kanaval Ag Supply on Morrison Lane happens to live where many people slide off the road. He has always helped others when he can, even though there are times he can't do much to help.

This fall, Kanaval has pulled more than three people out of the ditch.  

"I think most of us will help others when the need arises," he said.

This sort of thoughtfulness and caring is not extraordinary for Potomac. However, during these extraordinary times, the residents are going the extra mile for others.


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