As part of our year-end traditions, we started in November to gear up for Christmas food boxes to Alaskan villages. We sent out the request for turkeys, that our congregants so faithfully supply, along with money for other food items for Christmas dinners. We sent out boxes to 22 villages this year. 15 villages received turkeys, and the seven we mailed received canned hams. This year, donations of cookies and other goodies came in, so many villages received two boxes. This year, along with food boxes, we did a bit extra for the village of Allakaket, which has a little Episcopal church but no pastor. A sock drive produced 104 pairs of heavy winter socks from our Zion members and 79 pairs from Bonnie Smith's congregation in Akeley, MN. She is one of our ladies, along with Gayle Poland from Texas, who travels to Allakaket in the summer to volunteer teaching vacation Bible school and adult Bible studies.
Nearly 100 stocking caps accompanied the socks, made and donated by Roseanne Gross and other ladies in Deptford, NJ. We also sent a box of 51 stocking caps, packaged and nicely wrapped with stuffed toys, for children under the age of 14.
One of the things the village of Allakaket asked for, and I had fun making, was a new Santa Clause suit, modeled here by David.
Other donations came in and were sent out for specific needs. Marti Kouder from Michigan made four beautiful quilts that we sent to three villages—Ambler, Shungnak, and Fort Yukon—to bless four elders. A box of knitted child sweaters was donated by Evelyn Biasch and sent to Ambler.
The response from the villages this year was particularly heart warming. Usually, whoever is in charge of receiving the boxes asks how it should be used. We let them know it is a gift and tell them that since they know best the needs of their particular village, to use it accordingly.
- From Nulato, we were told that the food stuff was used as a raffle to raise money for two families whose babies have been in the Anchorage hospital since birth.
- In Arctic Village and Fort Yukon, where they have had power outages and needed to use their Christmas funds repairing generators, the food would be added to the Christmas community dinner.
- In Kivalina, the main grocery store had burned to the ground on Dec. 5, so food was given to families in need.
- In Beaver, where there is no store and only a few villagers are employed, the food was shared by the community.
- In Tanana, the food stuff was divided and added to baskets going to elders, bachelors and other families.
We realize that these are only small ways to help with physical needs. However, the good will reaches into hearts and lives of others who feel alone, forgotten or of little value. For some, especially in isolated areas, the holidays are particularly difficult. Thank you for your love and support of this ministry. Be assured, you have made a difference!
Rosemary Sternbeck, Volunteer Coordinator, Fairbanks, AK
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord. ... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!'" (Luke 2:11-14)
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