Sacajawea Middle School lunch donations

Taylor Bruce, in the eighth grade, helped deliver lunches to staff at Sacajawea Middle School.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are moving annual fundraisers to online platforms while some parents are raising money to support teachers and schools.

Irving Elementary School decided to do a scavenger hunt where families can collect QR codes that are placed throughout the school community. Principal Jennifer Westphal said the school typically does an outdoor event, like a fun run or a jog-a-thon, but because of coronavirus concerns they opted to change it.

“Due to the pandemic we are way below what we usually raise,” Westphal said.

While the scavenger hunt ended Friday at midnight, she said anyone can donate to the fundraiser until Monday at midnight. People can donate at using the code GD20.

Bozeman Schools Foundation’s annual Santa Run will also look a bit different this year. Each year the group raises money to benefit Bozeman, Belgrade, Gallatin Gateway, Manhattan and Monforton Public Schools.

They also award cash prizes to the Parent Advisory Councils from the top three participating schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit decided to limit the number of in-person participants and hold a virtual 5K too. The in-person 5K is scheduled for Dec. 5 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Parents and local businesses have also joined together to launch fundraisers in support of the district.

Last week, a group of parents started fundraising to provide lunches to Bozeman District schools as a sign of appreciation for their hard work. The effort began on Nov. 3 with the delivery of lunches to district administration at the Willson Building.

Keri Zwerner, one of the parents involved, launched a GoFundMe account with the goal of raising $7,500 to buy staff lunches. As of Friday, the group had raised over $4,300 from about 100 donors.

As of Friday, the group has delivered lunches to the entire staff at nine schools and the district’s central office, Zwerner said. Early next week three more schools and two smaller special day schools will receive lunches.

“It was a small gesture that the community offered to some of our most treasured resources,” Zwerner said. “We hoped it showed that we see them and we care.”

To maintain health standards, the lunches are individually packaged sandwiches and chips from local restaurants like Pickle Barrel and Fink’s Deli. Firehouse Subs also offered to provide boxed lunches to a some school staff, according to Zwerner.

Zwerner told the Chronicle in an email that the parent group plans to do more than lunches, and plans to donate any leftover money to purchase personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer for the district.

Any extra funds received will be donated to BSD7 schools in the form of PPE such as disinfectant wipes, gloves, and hand sanitizer.

She said a lot of the staff reached out to thank the group for the donation and the support.

“Most knew it was more than a lunch or just a treat,” she said. “For some, it gave them a much needed bright spot in their day.”

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Liz Weber can be reached at or 582-2633.