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Flathead fire departments come together to help Bench family

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 18:28:02-05

KALISPELL — Fire departments across the Flathead Valley are coming together on Saturday for a special Fill the Boot fundraiser.

The fundraiser is aimed at supporting the Bench family after their young son Maverick passed away from complications from a rare condition earlier this month.

MTN News talked with firefighters who are working together to help offset expenses the family incurred while fighting beside Maverick.

“As much as we can get to help them offset the costs of what this tragedy’s really cost them, it would be good to help them as much as we can," said Smith Valley firefighter Rob Hampton.

Nine fire departments across the Flathead Valley from South Kalispell, to Whitefish -- all the way down to Bigfork -- are coming together for a special Fill the Boot fundraiser supporting the Bench family.

Hampton says the fundraiser will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday with firefighters collecting donations outside their fire halls.

“Firefighters standing outside with the boot, and they literally just can drive by and drop their money in the boot,” Hampton said.

“We’re looking for anything, any little bit counts, if you got money in your ashtray every little bit adds up so whatever we can do to help the family," Hampton added.

The West Valley Fire Department in Kalispell held their own Fill the Boot fundraiser back in November for the Bench family, raising more than $6,000.

After seeing the success of the first event, Hampton says fire districts across the valley came together to organize another Fill the Boot campaign.

“Everybody else in the valley kind of wanted to help out too so we all got behind that sentiment and put it together to do a valley-wide event.”

West Family Fire Captain Tina Venturini says she wanted to do anything she could to help the Bench family after first hearing of Maverick’s story.

She says the Fill the Boot fundraiser is a way of keeping Maverick’s kind, giving spirit alive across the Flathead.

“Maverick’s bigger than life, and he’s got more things, incredible things to do," Venturini said.

Cash or check donations are preferred made directly out to Logan or Colleen Bench.

The nine fire departments involved in the fundraising campaigns are Marion, Smith Valley, West Valley, Evergreen, South Kalispell, Somers, Lakeside, Bigfork, and Whitefish.