Evergreen couple exemplifies spirit of giving

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Last year the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce established the Brent Hall award to honor community members who exemplify “a spirit of giving, community and business leadership, volunteerism and advocacy for the support of others.”

Last week that award was given to Allen and Linda Erickson, founders of the Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry, and we couldn’t agree more with that selection.

Their resume of community involvement and support for military veterans is as impressive as it is lengthy.

The Ericksons organized the first Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down in 2000 that was attended by more than 1,000 veterans and their families. That event distributed more than $500,000 of new military clothing and civilian clothing, goods and services and administered 300 flu shots to veterans. In 2002 they opened the Veterans Food Pantry, a nonprofit that helps thousands of veterans each year. They also created a veterans service center and created the Durable Medical Equipment Loan Program.

Their efforts over the last two decades garnered the praises of both Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester at the recent Evergreen Chamber banquet, with each senator lauding the Ericksons’ commitment to the spirit of giving.

Thank you Allen and Linda, for all you have done to improve our community. Your service and dedication to improving the lives of others is something we all should strive to achieve.

On Wednesday we published a story about Hot Springs resident Anthony Byrns serving as a casket bearer for former President George H.W. Bush. The 2015 graduate of Hot Springs High School and U.S. Navy seaman was one of the eight casket bearers during Bush’s interment ceremony Dec. 6 in Texas.

The process for being selected to the ceremonial honor guard is quite rigorous — only the best of the best are chosen. In a Navy of 400,000 personnel, there are only 230 ceremonial honor guards.

According to the Navy, members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard participate in some of our nation’s most prestigious ceremonies, including Presidential inaugurations and arrival ceremonies for foreign officials. In addition, the Navy Ceremonial Guard serves as the funeral escort and conducts all services for Navy personnel buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

What a proud moment for Hot Springs, having one of their hometown boys chosen for such a high honor.

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