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Community grant provides more access to free books during summer months

Columbia Falls Bookmobile
Columbia Falls Bookmobile
Columbia Falls Bookmobile
Columbia Falls Bookmobile
Posted at 3:29 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 17:30:38-04

COLUMBIA FALLS — The Whitefish Community Foundation recently awarded close to $60,000 in community grants to 17 non-profits throughout the Flathead Valley.

“We’re doing with the goal of building our local non-profit community so that they can continue to provide all of the crucial services that they do,” said Foundation programs manager Lynnette Donaldson.

Donaldson told MTN News the grants provided throughout the Flathead Valley were rewarded to a wide range of services across non-profit sectors.

“Health and human services, recreation, we serviced our fire department, we provided funds for safe grad night for educational activities, it was really nice selection of local non-profits that applied to the spring cycle of our community grant program."

Columbia Falls Bookmobile

One non-profit that benefited from grant funding is the Columbia Falls Bookmobile, a teacher-driven initiative aimed at providing free literacy and food access during the summer months to children living in remote areas.

“We run a little vehicle, an old suburban that we use to run around the district,” Columbia Falls Bookmobile coordinator Betsy Kohnstamm

Kohnstamm said the bookmobile has been in service for eight summers, running five different routes each week, dropping books off directly to children at their homes.

“Up to as far as Coram and down along [Highway] 206 and up into Trumbull Canyon, you know some backroads for sure,” said Kohnstamm.

Columbia Falls Bookmobile

Kohnstmann said the school district provides a small stipend to cover vehicle costs, with grant funding raised throughout the year going directly toward buying new books.

“We have books for babies on through adults on the vehicle, they’re all in different size bins and so when we pull up to a spot, we pull out different bins for different children so it’s really easy to try to match the child to the book,” Kohnstamm explained.

A rotating cast of teachers volunteer time each summer with the bookmobile, helping reach more and more kids each year.

The bookmobile will be back on the road for a ninth summer serving kids in Columbia Falls and surrounding areas starting the third week of June.