The Montana football team helped carry on a century-old Thanksgiving tradition in Bonner on Sunday, one that has also grown to become something of a modern-day tradition for the Grizzlies.
On the evening following the team’s annual awards banquet, over 20 Grizzlies gathered on the grounds of the old Bonner mill and circled the surrounding employee housing to hand out turkeys, hoping to make the holiday a little brighter for folks in the historic neighborhood.
Current Bonner Mill owners (and long-time Griz fans) Mike Boehme and Steve Nelson revived the tradition of spreading cheer to the mill’s neighbors shortly after they purchased the site in 2011.It’s a tradition Boehme says started in the 1880s when the Anaconda Company opened the mill to provide lumber for its mines in Butte.
Since resuming the turkey hand out shortly after they took over, Boehme and Nelson got the idea to involve student-athletes from the University, giving community members the chance to put faces to the names on the back of jerseys.
“I think it connects the community with the athletes. When they’re out there on the field in their helmets, people don’t know who these young people are,” said Boehme.
“To have them come hand out turkey, it makes the community, the people, feel better, and It’s certainly, I think, good for the Griz players.”
The opportunity to get out and show appreciation isn’t lost on the players, either.
“It’s just nice, especially as a Griz player, we get so much support from the community year-round. It’s the least we can do to just give back to them a little bit, especially around the holiday season,” said freshman Nash Fouch.
2018 marked the sixth year Grizzly student-athletes have headed to Bonner to help folks put a turkey on the table. Each year, the group of athletes willing to lend a hand has grown, too, with this being the largest turnout to date.
This year’s volunteers included: Sean Anderson, Gerrit Bloemendaal, Lorenzo Brown, Colten Curry, Nathaniel Morin-Ferguson, Tyler Flink, Nash Fouch, Tyler Ganoung, Nick Germer, Jackson Groff, Alex Gubner, Gabe Peppenger, Cody Hartsoch, Seamus Hennessy, Jackson Pepe, Cody Kanouse, David Koppang, Milton Mamula, Max Morris, Jake Olsen, Conor Quick, Cole Sain, Jace Schneider, Drew Turner and more.