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Montana Strong - How you can help United Way help Montana fire victims

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We are looking for ways that all of us as Montanans can help out wildfire victims, and those fighting the flames.

It’s part of our Montana Strong Donation Drive.

Go to and click the "MontanaStrong" link.

One of the organizations to which you can donate is the United Way of Missoula County.

"Lincoln Montana, Missoula, Portland, big fork, Minneapolis, Metairie Louisiana…” Susan Hay Patrick takes inventory of the hundreds of donations pouring-in, as United Way mascot Sophie rests nearby.  But there's no rest for these workers, as they account for money coming from all over,

“Probably some of their best family vacation memories have been in Seeley Lake or down in the Bitterroot or elsewhere in Montana,” says Patrick. “And when they see it on the news, they must have been thinking, wow, I really want to help the people who were so wonderful to me and help restore the places that were so magical to my family."

As of tonight, $32,000 collected from 35 states, including Montanans helping Montanans.

"When one of us suffers we all suffer,” says Patrick. “We are so well-aware of the beauty of our natural surroundings.  When we see a million acres burning, we know what this means to our economy, our families, to farmers, to firefighters, and we want to respond."

And Patrick’s staff is responding, distributing the money donated to air filters for schools, food for shelters, and even paying the insurance deductible for one of the families that lost a home in the Lolo Peak Fire.  And they do it all without making those in need jump through a lot of hoops.

"I’m sure there'll be plenty of hoop-jumping they'll need to do for their insurance, for any kind of government aid,” says Patrick. “We want to be nimble and quick to respond to people in this terrible time."

And as Patrick personally signs every thank you letter to donors, she says her belief in people's goodness and generosity is reinforced.

"Sometimes we can get jaded and cynical in this day and age and we think everyone is out for themselves.  And this situation in Montana is proving otherwise.  People are opening their hearts and their wallets in a really amazing way."

Perhaps helping some of those in need, rest a little easier tonight, knowing help is on the way.

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