Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

By John Dowd 

Donations delivered to county

Food banks receive potatoes, sanitizer


John Dowd

SPECIAL DELIVERY - Dave Williams (left) gets help unloading potatoes from Izzybella Hardy, Hailee Steinebach and William Taber at the Gospel Mountain Assembly of God Food Pantry in Thompson Falls on Monday.

On Monday Dave Williams, with Joint Operation Mariposa, came out to drop off a truck load of potatoes for the Gospel Mountain Assembly of God Food Pantry. The pantry has been around for over 10 years and helps anyone in need of food. The potatoes came from a larger event hosted in Missoula over the weekend called the Great Montana Veteran Potato and Hand Sanitizer Community giveaway.

At the giveaway in Missoula, Williams worked with the United Veterans Council, United After Duty United States of Hope and many other organizations to aid the veteran community of Montana. During the event 40,000 potatoes were brought from eastern Montana, donated by Walt Sales, and over 1,500 bottles of hand sanitizer donated by the Wildrye distillery.

After the event in Missoula, Williams brought a truck load of extra potatoes to give back to his own community. Williams has been living in Sanders County for 20 years and fell in love with it the moment he stepped foot here. Williams is the president/ founder of Joint Operation Mariposa and started it back in 2015.

"I wanted to give back and Sanders County was a great place to start because there were no vet services of any kind, if you can believe that," Williams said.

One big accomplishment achieved lately by the organization is that they secured the funds for a columbarium for the Plains cemetery. Currently they are waiting on replies from columbarium businesses, which have been shut down as non-essential businesses due to COVID-19.

Joint Operation Mariposa is a veteran outreach program that works with many other organizations to aid veterans and their families. Williams himself was an Airforce child and went into the Navy when he was old enough to join. Originally from a little town called Belton, Missouri, he served as a ground support technician for four years and was wounded with a traumatic brain injury. He was injured by a deck hatch on the U.S.S. Constitution that fell off its stanchions and hit him in the head. He says he knows personally the struggles that can come from reentering life as a serviceman or woman, but talked also about how it can be the families that can really struggle readjusting to ordinary life.

Williams says, "I lost a lot when I got injured but throughout the years it was replaced by art." Williams is a National Archives artist and has a piece possibly heading to the Smithsonian within the year. He, along with his goddaughter, Hailee Steinebach, who was also there Monday to help offload the potatoes, have created over 2,000 pieces of artwork with students around western Montana. His artwork can be viewed throughout the schools of Sanders County, as there is at least on piece in every school.

The Gospel Mountain Assembly of God Food Pantry is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They also plan on reopening their soup kitchen, at noon on Wednesdays.

Williams met the director of the pantry, Tracey Thomas and her husband James, at the Assembly of God church. He was also assisted by young Chloe Monselet, Izzybella Hardy and William Taber. They were joined by Bryce Nelson and Jaelyn Murray who came out for the Noxon Community Center Food Bank.


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