Fran & Katie’s Giving Tree continues to expand outreach in Troy

By Stacy Bender

Santa and Mrs. Claus were joined by several members of the 2020 Fran & Katie’s Giving Tree program in Troy who came together on Sunday morning, December 20, to pause for a moment of gratitude as they worked to distribute Christmas meals and holiday gifts for 54 families and 140 are children on behalf of several Troy area businesses and community members who rallied in support of this year’s outreach. Photo by Stacy Bender, The Montanian.


As predicted, 2020 proved to be one of the strongest holiday assistance outreach efforts the legacy of Fran & Katie’s Giving Tree has provided to families across the Troy area for nearly four and half decades.  “There were a countless number of elves and helpers which made this season possible,” shared event organizer, Summer McDonald, who stepped in alongside Katie Reid to fill Fran’s shoes in 2017.

The Giving Tree program coordinates with Troy area businesses and residents to provide a holiday meal, basic needs and a few small wishes pre-submitted through applications received in late October.  This year 54 families and over 140 children became beneficiaries of the program’s good will.

As all outreach initiatives experienced on some level this year, the Giving Tree program found itself adapting to the current Covid-19 pandemic at-play and adjusting its course of action as Christmas closed-in.  In the past, a special afternoon at the Troy Senior Center where Santa arrived to distribute good tidings to families had transpired.

This year, the Senior Center graciously provided ample space for Santa’s elves to sort, wrap, and prepare holiday gifts for delivery.  Then transport to the Double J Bed & Breakfast took place where Jim and Joyce Schreiner graciously opened their doors for distribution in drive-thru fashion.

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived on-scene on Sunday afternoon, December 20, and with the help of several Giving Tree support team members they loaded the trunks and backseats of family vehicles with Christmas meals and packages.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” said McDonald in attempting to express her gratitude for all involved.  “To Katie Reid, Shelly and Maggie Anderson, and Geneis Borgmann.  This project would have been impossible without their help and organization.”

“Christian Women Connecting, Zero to Five of Lincoln County, Troy Christian Fellowship, Steins, Rosauers, our Troy 4-H kids all helped us immensely.  So many of our local businesses contribute generously year after year.  Our residents provide gifts and monetary donations, too.”

“And to the Salvation Army!  They made an extremely generous donation to our program last year – 6 giant moving boxes of so many wonderful toys and other items.  Not only did we serve families with those gifts both this year and last, but we have even more that we look forward to sharing forward again next year.”

“We are blessed.  It is so incredibly fulfilling when this day comes around each year,” McDonald shared as the 2020 distributions came to a close on Sunday afternoon, December 20.  “I really hope that everyone knows how very much they are appreciated for everything they do to make this all possible.  I am certain that I have forgotten more than a few mentions – please apologize for me in advance and know we are fully aware that none of this would be possible without this incredible village we call home.”

Libby streets decked in holiday spirits once again

By Stacy Bender


After several years of retirement in city storage, Libby’s holiday wreaths have been restored and are once again shining along California and Mineral Avenues in downtown Libby.

The project, spearheaded by Managhan’s Furniture and its team, took about three months to complete. In the end, a spirited collaboration of time, talent and resources by several local businesses and residents transpired in support of the effort.

Following about a month spent envisioning how best to approach the task, each worn-down wreath was then stripped, stranded, and readorned with newly painted wooden cutouts of bears and snowflakes before being prepped again for proper display. The decorative cutouts were done by Cody Martens of Libby.  Over the course of about two months and utilizing his spare time, Martens cut 50 bears and 12 snowflakes which were then added to the 13 precut snowflakes already on hand.  All 75 pieces were then painted by Martens’ wife, Kristen, and the two then worked alongside the Managhan’s team to help wire each decoration to the wreaths.

“Thank you to Kristen and Cody Martens (bears, snowflakes, assembly), Harvey Person (assembly), Big Sky Lumber (deal on wood for bears and snowflakes), Ace Hardware (deal on lights), and to so many others for the financial donations and hard work,” wrote Managhan’s management in a recent online post announcing completion of the restoration project.

Additional thanks were extended to MontanaSky West, Junior Beardsley and Anthony Green who took to the streets on Wednesday, December 2, to install the holiday wreaths for proud display throughout the 2020 Holiday Season.

“A huge thank you to Managhan’s furniture for taking the lead and resurrecting these wreaths for the Libby Community,” wrote MontanaSky in an online release that day. “This was no small endeavor and we’re proud to be one of the many Libby businesses that were able to help.”


This Week in History

December 23

1823: A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, was published anonymously in the Troy, New York, Sentinel.

December 24

1818: “Silent Night” by Franz Xaver Gruber (music) and Father Joseph Mohr (lyrics) was first performed in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

December 25

1642: English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian Sir Isaac Newton was born in Lincolnshire, England.
Jane Wyman.
1946: Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and U.S. football player Larry Csonka were born this day. Also, U.S. comedian W.C. Fields died this day.
1991: Ukraine’s referendum was finalized and Ukraine officially left the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union (the union itself was dissolved the next day).
2009: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” unsuccessfully attempted a terrorist attack against the U.S. while on board a flight to Detroit Metro Airport on Northwest Airlines Flight 253
2012:The Seleka rebel coalition takes over Bambari, the third largest town in the Central African Republic
2016: United Nations Security Council adopts a landmark resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. Resolution 2334 was moved by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela and passed 14-0 with a US abstention.

December 26

1972: Harry S. Truman (33rd U.S. president, 1945-1953) died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 88.
1985: World renowned gorilla scientist Dian Fossey (born 1932) was hacked to death with a machete in the jungles of Rwanda. A fellow American researcher named Wayne McGuire (age unknown) was convicted in absentia of her murder by a Rwandan court.
1996: Six-year-old Jon Benet Ramsey, a precocious beauty pageant contestant, was found murdered in the basement of her parents’ home in Boulder, Colo. The case remains unsolved.
2004: A massive tsunami swept the Indian Ocean, killing over 200,000 people in several coastal countries.

December 27

1831: Charles Darwin embarked on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle, during which he began to formulate the theory of evolution.
1845: Ether anesthetic was used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Long in Jefferson, Ga.
1978: Guitarist Chris Bell of the band Big Star died in a car wreck in East Memphis, Tenn., at age 27.
1979: The Soviet Union invaded the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
1983: Pope John Paul II visited Mehmet Ali Ağca in prison near Rome and personally forgave him for the 1981 assassination attempt on him in St. Peter’s Square.
2007: Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a shooting/bombing incident in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan.

December 28

1961: Edith Galt Wilson, first lady of President Woodrow Wilson, died at age 89 in Alexandria, Va.
1962: 51st Davis Cup: Australia beats Mexico in Brisbane (5-0)
1963: “Double Dublin” closes at Little Theater NYC after 4 performances
1965: Ballon d’Or: Benfica striker Eusébio wins award for best European football player; first Portuguese national to win, and still only Benfica player
December 29

1808: Andrew Johnson, 17th president, was born in Raleigh, N.C.
1845: The United States annexed the Republic of Texas, following the doctrine of manifest destiny; the Republic of Texas, which had been independent since the Texas Revolution of 1836, was admitted as the 28th U.S. state.
1851: The first American YMCA opened in Boston, Massachusetts.
1890: The Wounded Knee Massacre took place on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; 300 Lakota men, women and children were killed by the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment.
1937: The Irish Free State was replaced by a new nation called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.
1949: KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut, became the first ultra-high-frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.
2003: The last known native speaker of Akkala Sami died, rendering the language extinct.

December 30

1853: The United States bought land from Mexico to facilitate building a railroad in the Southwest, in what became known as the Gadsden Purchase, the last expansion of U.S. territory in the 48 states.
1906: The All-India Muslim League was founded in Dacca, East Bengal, British India. (It went on to become Pakistan.)