Fort Yellowstone chapel

The sandstone chapel at Mammoth, Wyo., was the last building constructed at Fort Yellowstone, which housed soldiers protecting the park from 1886 till 1918. The ground in Mammoth was bare two days before Thanksgiving when this photo was taken, but the National Park Service reports that the historic village had a foot of snow last week.

BOB ZELLAR,Gazette Staff

On this Christmas morning, many empty stockings have been filled, thanks to caring people in Billings, Montana and Wyoming. Throughout the year, The Gazette brings readers information on how to get involved with their communities, how to give back and make our hometowns better. For today’s edition, we invited nonprofit organizations to tell why they are thankful. In a special, four-page Opinion section today, we present 40 letters from charitable groups and projects.

The letters are powerful, positive testimony to the importance of volunteers, donors and sponsors. Because of selfless giving, hungry families have groceries. Children have safe, fun care after school. Our schools have support for new hands-on science classes. Homeless folks are sheltered. Montana Rescue Mission staff even go out to look for the unsheltered on cold nights to invite them in. The PATH team based at the Mental Health Center’s HUB drop-in center searches out troubled, homeless persons under bridges and in camps year-round.

Thanks to nonprofit organizations, elders are treated with compassion and those with little means are remembered with holiday gifts. DAV volunteers drive our U.S. military veterans where they need to go for health care in Billings and across Montana.

Local clinics provide needed care, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. It’s notable that Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare, RiverStone Health and most Montana hospitals and clinics are nonprofit.

Charitable giving is a strong tradition in our region, and we are better for it. Charity is also a basic teaching of the world’s great religions. So on this day when both Christmas and Hanukkah are being celebrated in homes and places of worship, thanks for giving to your community.

Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah, everyone.

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