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Fred Rogers, host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” believed in the power of helpers. Mr. Rogers encouraged us all to “look for the helpers” when bad and scary things happen in the world. Southwestern Montana is fortunate to have a diverse and passionate army of “helpers” responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We live in a region that is lucky to have an expansive nonprofit sector. There are hundreds of nonprofit leaders working to address the increased needs of our most vulnerable in the face of the largest and most complex humanitarian crisis we have ever seen. But who can help the helpers? Who can strengthen organizations on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19? Who can make sure that there are resources to meet the immediate and evolving need for safety net services in our community?

We all can.

The Bozeman Area Community Foundation and the Greater Gallatin United Way have long histories of raising funds for and supporting charitable organizations in our region. Together, we are partnering to galvanize support for essential organizations that are working to meet immediate and ongoing needs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic through the Southwest Montana COVID-19 Response Fund.

This new fund is created to rapidly mobilize resources so local nonprofits and social service agencies can meet the increased needs from the COVID-19 pandemic. By creating one fund, our community resources can focus on the areas that need immediate support. Initial funding will focus on five primary areas of need: food and supplies distribution, emergency housing, emergency financial assistance, health and wellbeing, and programs and supplies needed to support crisis response.

In this unique and challenging time, we should all take comfort in — and do what we can to support — our region’s helpers. But we can also be helpers, too. We encourage you to get involved in three ways:

Donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund. This collaborative fund will expedite funding to the most critical needs and to help plan for longer-term needs of the region due to COVID-19. Donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund at

Checks may be made out to “The Southwestern Montana COVID-19 Response Fund” or Greater Gallatin United Way and mailed to the following addresses: COVID-19 Response Fund, c/o Greater Gallatin United Way, 945 Technology Blvd. Suite 101-F, Bozeman. Or, COVID-19 Response Fund, c/o Bozeman Area Community Foundation, 1627 W. Main St., Box 404, Bozeman, 59715.

Give to the nonprofits in our community. Many nonprofits and cultural organizations have been significantly impacted by social distancing, canceled fundraising events and programming that provide essential revenues. Consider donating directly to a local nonprofit during this challenging time. Direct support to many of your favorite organizations can be made via the Give Big Gallatin Valley platform that supports 200+ nonprofits in Gallatin County from April 30 — May 1 by going to

Volunteer to help. If you are healthy, not part of an at-risk population and want to volunteer, visit If you are an agency with volunteer needs, visit the same site to post volunteer opportunities.

We thank AMB West Philanthropies, the entity that directs the philanthropic and charitable interests of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in the Western United States, for being a champion helper in the face of COVID-19. AMB West Philanthropies helped BACF and GGUW launch the COVID-19 Response Fund with a $100,000 challenge grant, leveraging donations to the fund and making resources immediately available to the organizations on the front line.

Please consider making a donation to the Southwest Montana COVID-19 Response Fund today.

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Bridget Wilkinson is the executive director of the Bozeman Area Community Foundation; Danica Jamison is president and CEO of Greater Gallatin United Way.