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Small Montana community comes together in big way for those in need

Published On: Nov 04 2012 08:53:59 PM MST

The River's Edge Bar and Grill is not your average restaurant.

"In a way, it's a community center" said Maaike Middleton, who bartends at the establishment. "On Tuesday nights, we'll have game night. And in the summer, we play volleyball outside."

The three-year old eatery in the small Paradise Valley town of Emigrant is just one of a few places for locals to hang out, and during the holiday season- donate.

"We saw kids that had duct tape around their shoes" said owner Kelly Meadows. "Tennis shoes in the snow."

She said she saw firsthand that many people in the valley don't have the resources they need- and there's no place locally for them to turn to for help. So last year, the restaurant hosted their first can and coat drive.

"We really didn't know what to expect" Middleton said. "It was just an overwhelming response from the community- it was absolutely incredible."

Both Middleton and Meadows said the signs on the door and word-of-mouth turned in a huge response.

The restaurant received over 200 donations in a month last year. And so far this year, they've already received half of that.

"You live with these people- it's not just anonymous people that you're donating to or huge organization" said Emigrant resident Angela Bennett, who donated both years.

Bennett also volunteered her time at the clothing and food giveaway last year. She said it's different when you live in such a small community, because the person in need might be your child's friend or next-door neighbor.

"It's a very heart-warming feeling" she said. "It's a very big sense of community here that I've never experienced anywhere else."

A sense of community that comes from a local restaurant, and keeps families warm through the winter season.

The River's Edge takes in any winter clothes items for all ages, and monetary or canned food donations for Thanksgiving food baskets.

Meadows said they'll hand everything out on November 19th, at the Emigrant Hall.

Any items or baskets not taken will be donated to Park High School in Livingston to give to underprivileged teens and families.

For more information, call The River's Edge at 333-4343 or visit their location at 70 Murphy Lane.