By Perry Backus
More than 480 articles of brand-new Columbia Sportswear are being distributed this week to Bitterroot Valley children, thanks to the generosity of that company and The Greater Ravalli Foundation.
Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, provided the foundation with over $33,700 of coats, boots, gloves and hats after hearing of the need from members of the foundation, said the foundation’s co-chair Jim Schueler.
The foundation paid $5,000 for all of the items.
Schueler said the Columbia brand clothing included coats of all sizes to fit girls to young ladies and boys to men.
“There was close to 170 jackets,” Schueler said. “There were a lot of gloves and hats too. It’s all very good clothing.”
The clothing will be distributed to children at nearly every school in the county, he said.
The foundation works with school officials to identify the children in need.
“We’ve been doing something similar to this for a very long time,” Schueler said. “The items are delivered to our house and my wife, Nancy, sorts them all out. She helps deliver them to teachers and councilors at the schools.”
Schueler said there was a huge need this year and the donation from Columbia helped the foundation fill it.
“We have pretty much filled all the needs of everyone who called us,” Schueler said. “This has been a very good thing for everyone involved.”
The Greater Ravalli Foundation was formed in 2002 to help fill the gaps of a crumbling public education financial situation in the Bitterroot Valley.
It began after a daughter of a Stock Farm member brought the issue to the forefront after she started taking extra peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school after learning some kids couldn’t afford to buy a school lunch.
Since October 2002, the foundation has given more than $1.5 million to education and sustenance programs in the Bitterroot Valley.