By Joe Whalen
Despite their own need for drought relief, farmers in north-central Montana generated a flood of support that has provided almost $20,000 for children of people victimized by terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
Give Relief to Americans in Need, or GRAIN, a relief project created by local farmers Terry and Earl Johnson, successfully concluded its campaign Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 with the delivery of 4,583 bushels of grain to the General Mills elevator in Wolf Point. Proceeds from the sale of the spring wheat will be donated to the Kiwanis International 911 Victims Children's Fund.
"To have the people in this group who aren't even members of Kiwanis come up with about $20,000 is just fantastic," said Mike Sullivan, public information officer for the Montana Department of Agriculture in Helena. "It's tremendous."
Further assistance for the project was provided by the Hill County Tavern Association, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, and General Mills. The tavern association provided fuel vouchers for truckers; BNSF covered freight costs for shipment of the entire load; and General Mills donated administrative costs related to the project.
The bushels were transported from Havre to Wolf Point in a caravan of trucks designed to increase visibility and raise awareness of the relief effort.
"It was great to see the support for our fellow Americans pour out from this drought-stricken part of the state," Terry Johnson said. "There are so many people who gave so much, we can't thank them enough. We truly appreciate everyone who got involved with their donations of time, effort, fuel, trucks and driving time and, of course, the spring wheat."
The Kiwanis fund has begun channeling relief to the estimated 15,000 children in need, and already provided assistance for more than 40 New York families in the form of food, clothing and payment of energy bills. It has also released a total of more than $90,000 in donations, part of which has been earmarked for an education fund established for children of employees of Windows on the World, a restau rant the top of the World Trade Center, who died in the attacks.