Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska started a food drive Monday for communities in Southeast Alaska that are struggling with the lack of ferry service.
Tlingit and Haida are hoping to have their first shipment out Friday.
“We just hit the ground running,” said Jamiann Hasselquist, S’eil Tin, administrative assistant for Tlingit and Haida, who organized the effort. Hasselquist said her group was inspired by similar food drives organized last week by Sitka’s Alaska Native Sisterhood camp.
Without ferry service, many communities that rely on the Alaska Marine Highway Service for freight transport have been struggling to get enough supplies. Other local organizations have been sending food as well, and Hasselquist said she has been trying to coordinate with those groups as to not unnecessarily duplicate any services.
Juneau resident Debra Gerrish has been sending food for about three weeks and has been working with Super Bear Supermarket IGA to collect and send supplies. Super Bear has been helping with the cost of shipping the supplies and organizing and packaging the food. Hasselquist said Thursday she was currently working with the market to try and combine efforts.
“In the bible, the second greatest commandment is love thy neighbor as thyself,” Gerrish said. “These are our neighbors, and they really need our help. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”
Tlingit and Haida have multiple locations around Juneau where supplies can be dropped off daily, and Hasselquist said they hope to make deliveries each week. Shipments are sent by air through Alaska Seaplanes and Ward Air, but flights can be grounded by bad weather and are limited in the amount of freight they can ship.
“We want to send things until people have (ferry) service,” she said. “It doesn’t look like the ferries will have complete and consistent service for quite some time.”
In addition to food, things like toilet paper, diapers, feminine hygiene products and cat and dog food are welcome as well.
Monetary donations can be made at Tlingit and Haida’s website to help pay for shipping. Donations of either food or money can be made at Super Bear as well. The market has donation bags already made available at checkout stands and monetary donations can be made by contacting a store manager, according to J.P. Oudekerk, store assistant for Super Bear.
Super Bear had already raised about $3,000 for shipping, Oudekerk said.
Gerrish has been working with the Juneau Corps of the Salvation Army, and donations can be made at their website. Gina Halverston, executive director of the Juneau Salvation Army said donors should specify the money is to be used for food for Southeast villages in the comments section of the donation page.
“It’s part of our traditional values to lift, hold each other up,” Hasselquist said. “That extends to everyone walking on haa aaní, ‘our land.’”
Donations can be made to the following locations:
• Andrew Hope Building, 320 Willoughby Ave.
• Tlingit and Haida Vocational Training and Resource Center, 3239 Hospital Drive.
• Edward K. Thomas Building, 9097 Glacier Highway.
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Office, 3075 Vintage Blvd.
• Super Bear Supermarket, 9103 Mendenhall Mall Rd.
• OfficeMax Juneau, 8745 Glacier Hwy #103.
Perishable items are accepted.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or email@example.com.