Friday, October 15, 2021

Volunteers needed for Decorating Day tradition

by Rebekah King
| October 28, 2020 2:35 AM

Hey, you, I need your help! It is going to be pretty early, on a cherished Saturday morning. It will take a few hours and might be snowing. It will almost definitely be cold. Oh, did I forget to mention it is outside? There may be a bit of physical labor, and there is no money to pay you or any of the other nearly one hundred people that show up. So, I assume I can count on you, right?

No? Are you currently questioning what planet I might be from or why you are continuing to read this? I don't blame you. The entire concept sounds insane, except it has happened every single year for the last forty-plus years. And now, I am inviting you to bundle up your family, push, pull or drag your friends, or just yourself and join in one of the most treasured traditions in Bigfork…Bigfork Elves Decorating Day!

What makes decorating day so notable? Why is it so important? It is the epitome of what makes Bigfork so remarkable. Bigfork is a community built on volunteers. On this one day each year, friends and strangers come together to decorate businesses they do not own and may, or may not, shop in. Many don red hats, along with their gloves and winter coats. They savor their cups of hot chocolate and coffee, and they work side-by-side to do something for their community, getting nothing in return.

But that last part is a lie. Volunteering is full of unexpected benefits. Donating your time can counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety - something we all could likely benefit from. The social connections made while helping and working with others can have a profound impact on overall wellbeing. It builds self-confidence and increases happiness, creating a sense of pride and identity, along with a sense of purpose. It also has the physical benefits of staying active and has been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase longevity.

Most importantly, volunteering builds a sense of community, and that is the essence of what Bigfork is all about. There is hardly an event that takes place that does not rely heavily on volunteers. There is a satisfaction that comes with knowing you helped clean that mile of road or decorate that building, not for the benefit of yourself but for others who will see it. And volunteering will strengthen your connection to whatever it is you may love about Bigfork.

Finally, volunteering is about tradition; a tradition that has seen a decline. The magic of Bigfork cannot survive without volunteers. Therefore, I challenge young families to start a tradition of volunteering. Children watch everything you do; by giving back to the community, you will be showing them firsthand how volunteering can make a difference. I challenge those of you who may have recently moved here to volunteer and become a part of where you live, meet new people, and create your own ties and traditions. If you are from Bigfork but have not volunteered in the past, then I challenge you to answer the call this year. Identify what you love about Bigfork and then find out how you can help.

Volunteerism is so valued here that both the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork have annual awards for it. The Little Red Hen and The Big Hat Award honor those who have generously volunteered their time and energy to improving Bigfork. So, I hope to see you on November 21st when our community of volunteers come together and turns Bigfork into Montana's Christmas Village. Who knows, you may be the next one to wear a big hat or be called a little red hen!

To those of you who consistently show up, dedicating your time and efforts, thank you. You are what makes Bigfork such an incredible place to call home.

If you would like to volunteer with the Bigfork Elves or be notified of upcoming volunteer opportunities, please email