Billings-area groups assist Pryor community

By 
Rusty LaFrance And Luella N. Brien
Thursday, May 7, 2020
Billings-area groups assist Pryor community
Courtesy photo
Volunteers unload a truck full of food donated to the community of Pryor by Billings Family Services and Diversified Transfer and Storage. Pryor Superintendent of Schools Bianka Rock Above said the trucks contained enough food for nearly 500 people.

On a cool, cloudy day last week the community of Pryor received nearly 12,000 pounds of food from Billings-area organizations Family Service and Diversified Transfer and Storage.

“Our community was beyond blessed,” Pryor Schools Principal Bianka Rock Above said. “They were very happy, we all were.”

She said Billings Faith Chapel volunteers connected the school district to Billings Family Services, who, within a week, planned bring a truckload of food to the small community nestled at the foot of the Pryor Mountains.

Notice of the donation came very quickly, Rock Above said, and much to her surprise, Randy Falls Down, the Pryor Public Schools IT director also received a word from DTS asking if the school district would be interested in a donation of fresh eggs.

“I told him, ‘Yes, absolutely!’” Rock Above said.

Rock Above notified the St. Charles Mission School, the private Catholic school in Pryor, and asked the staff there to spread the word as well.

“That was another blessing in disguise on the side, talk about perfect timing,” Rock Above said.

Since nearly everything was so short notice, Rock Above says she wanted to let as many people in the community know as soon as she could.

She said she unsure exactly how many boxes total were distributed to Pryor residents.

Family Service brought food 11,573 pounds of fresh produce, bread, meat and milk, while DTS brought hundreds of pounds of eggs and frozen French fries.

“When we drove into town and saw all the people lined up into their cars and it stretched around and into the little town it was humbling,” said Family Service Executive Director Stacy Brown. “It always touches my heart to see people being so kind and gentle.”

Living in a global pandemic, where food shortages are widespread, are difficult, but living in a rural, isolated area like Pryor makes it even more difficult.

“It’s such a great community of wonderful people,” Brown said. “I don’t want them to be forgotten.”

Family Service purchases the bulk of their food through the Montana Food Bank Network in Missoula, they also work with Feeding America and with local grocers through grocery recover programs. The food, Brown said, goes out the door as fast as it comes in.

“We believe we will never outlive God,” Brown said. “You just have to trust that God will have enough food for everyone.

Family Service, a non-profit social service program provides emergency food distribution, financial assistance, and other services to Yellowstone County and the surrounding area.

Brown said last year the organization served 15,000 households, but she expects that number to jump substantially this year.

The cold, spring rains that blew, but that did not deter the dedicated community members, and everyone banded together to make sure everyone who came was able to receive a box of food.

“I had elders in tears of joy,” Rock Above said.“We are so grateful for the kindness of all the people involved. That rain was starting to get cold but I think the excitement of the whole event kept us warm.”

Hundreds of people who work and live in the community and students who attend Pryor Public Schools and St. Charles Mission School received food, Rock Above said.

“It was so much fun and I was happy to visit every car load that pulled up to pick up their food boxes,” she added. “We are so thankful to Billings Family Service, Diversified Transfer and Storage, volunteers from Faith Chapel, and volunteers from the Pryor community and Pryor District Staff.”

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