Whew! Choteau has survived another amazing 4th of July celebration, that did not just happen as if by magic. The many special events that happened on July 3 and 4 were the result of months of planning, hours and hours of labor, and conservatively, hundreds of volunteers. Choteau is not a big community (population estimated at 1,691 as of 2017), but look at all the events that occurred: the Choteau Soroptimists summer festival and duck races, Choteau community band concert, the Got Grit obstacle course race, Chamber of Commerce music and microbrews in the City Park, Tim Montana concert at the Choteau Rodeo Grounds, the Bright Eyes bake sale, the Rocky’s Road fun runs, the Chamber parade, the Chamber steak-fry, the American Legion rodeo and the Choteau 4th of July fireworks display are the headliners of the celebration.

The organizers of the Rocky’s Road fun run had 21 volunteers helping the two race directors. If that many helped out with each of last week’s 11 main events, that’s a whopping 231 or so volunteers (or nearly 14 percent of Choteau’s population) who took time off from their regular duties or jobs to put on these events. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Those numbers say a lot about who Choteau is as a community. Those numbers say that Choteau is a place where people care intensely about a sense of community and are willing to find the time in their busy lies to make sure that special events happen. Those numbers say there are people here for whom volunteerism is not just an abstract concept, but is something that they know how to do and are willing to do. Those numbers also show that Choteau’s business owners are a pretty generous lot: allowing their employees to help put on events that benefit the animal shelter, scholarships for students, cancer support and research, community branding and marketing, Boys and Girls State delegates, and many more causes.

All of the volunteers in Choteau who make the 4th of July bash here the best in the state deserve everyone’s thanks. They deserve our appreciation and our commendation for their vital commitment to making this special two-day celebration a reality every year that draws hundreds of people to Choteau. They shine as an example to everyone else of what the spirit of volunteerism can accomplish, and their actions, their generous gift of their time, talents and often money, should inspire everyone to find a way to get involved in their community.

Many hands make a big job manageable and there are many big jobs facing our small rural communities from Pendroy to Bynum, Choteau to Dutton and Power to Fairfield. Be inspired to find a cause in your community and volunteeer to help with it. Make the time in your life and in your family’s life to share your talents and help make your community a better place for everyone to live. Turn off the TV, disconnet from the smart phone and have some fun working with your friends and neighbors to support the fabric of your community.

You will find — as all the volunteers in Choteau do every year — that there is a great deal of joy in giving back to your community, paying kindness forward and making a positive difference in the lives of others.