Local churches respond to emergency on Blackfeet Reservation

Dave Greep, pastor of the Holbrook and Grace United Methodist churches in Livingston, had a visual aid for a request he made Sunday to his congregations: Let’s fill this sled to help folks hardhit by winter weather on the Blackfeet Reservation.

Gov. Steve Bullock recently declared an emergency for three Indian reservations, including the Blackfeet, where winter storms and heavy snows have caused drifts up to 20 feet deep in some places, according to the Associated Press.

The Blackfeet United Methodist parish in Browning, Babb and Heart Butte put out a call for help and the United Methodist Yellowstone Conference responded, including Greep’s churches.

The sled Greep had on stage was no child’s toy, but a large, stout calf sled bought at Murdoch’s Home & Ranch Supply with funds the congregations raised. It has a heavy hitch so it can be pulled through snow by an ATV, snowmobile or even a horse.

Local parishioners responded to Greep’s challenge, and in subsequent days began filling the sled, parked right now in the church lobby, with everything from non-perishable foods to personal needs items, diapers, baby wipes, canned goods, toilet paper, tissues, paper plates and cups, and even pet food.

“A little bit of help here and there from folks adds up,” the pastor said.

Greep will take the sled over to a central location in Bozeman to be sent to the reservation with other donated items.

“The response will be ongoing,” Greep said of assistance for those in need.