Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Montanans are participating in the "Ice Bucket Challenge," a benefit for the ALS Association (ALSA). The Challenge is a grassroots fundraising effort fueled by social media, where people subject themselves to being drenched by a bucket of ice water. Participants make a charitable contribution of their choice to the ALSA and then challenge others to do the same. Those who skip the drenching are encouraged to donate $100 within 24 hours of being challenged.

The Challenge has increased awareness about ALS and the donation numbers are staggering. In a single day, $8.6 million was contributed. Total contributions are reported at nearly $42 million and are almost growing faster than can be calculated.

The Challenge is an opportunity for Montanans. I participated at the urging of my daughter and then saw a friend's Facebook post, urging participants to match their gift to the ALSA by making a similar donation to a local charity. I donated to two of my favorite local charities.

While some have criticized the Challenge, I prefer to look at it as an opportunity to give locally. Montana is home to more than 6,100 charitable organizations. Imagine if we could harness just a little of this charitable excitement to help the communities that have given us so much.

Take the Challenge and be part of something bigger than yourself. Then, choose a local charity, make a charitable contribution and start something big in Big Sky Country.

Mary K. Rutherford

CEO, Montana Community Foundation


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