By Tyler Allen
Explore Big Sky Senior Editor

BIG SKY – On Aug. 30 at the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill in Big Sky, one lucky ticket holder was suddenly the owner of a brand new NRS raft. While Chris Harman wasn’t in attendance for the ticket pull, he’ll likely get plenty of use out of his new boat.

Harman works part time as a raft guide at Big Sky’s Geyser Whitewater and has been guiding for six years across the country on rivers in Oregon, California and West Virginia.

“I feel incredibly luck to have won,” Harman said. “I cannot wait to hit the river.”

The boat was raffled off as a fundraiser for the Big Sky Community Food Bank, which began selling tickets during the Town Center Fourth of July celebration. The raffle raised $11,130 for the food bank, which also sold tickets at the Wednesday Farmers Markets, Music in the Mountains concerts, the Big Sky Pro Bull Riders event, and at area businesses.

Kim and George Rapier donated the fully loaded, 14-foot NRS Patriot 142 raft to the food bank through the Rapier Family Foundation. The setup included a trailer, fishing frame, four pfds, four helmets, paddles and oars, and an anchor system. The foundation also paid the federal income taxes that were due by the winner.

The food bank held a chili feast the night of the raffle pull as a show of appreciation to the Big Sky community, according to Diane Bartzick, a member of the food bank advisory board. The Riverhouse, Country Market and Dick Allgood – former owner of Allgood’s Bar & Grill in Big Sky – cooked up batches of chili for roughly 30 people who braved a rainy evening to celebrate the food bank by the Gallatin River.

The Big Sky Community Food Bank opened in October 2012 and has since supported a number of seasonal and permanent residents in this resort town. In 2013 the food bank served 652 people, giving out 17,048 pounds of food and in the first six months of 2014 had already donated 10,561 pounds to 564 people.

While the food bank is open just two days a week – Tuesdays from 3-7 p.m. and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – it’s always an available resource to the community, Bartzick said.

“If anybody finds that they are short [on food] and it’s not during the hours the food bank is open, other arrangements can be made by leaving a [phone] message.”

The Big Sky Community Food Bank can be reached at (406) 995-3088.