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Opinion: Why giving is part of our Alaska way of life

GCI is encouraging our fellow Alaskans to offer a hand to our most vulnerable neighbors in need.

  • Wednesday, November 24, 2021 3:56pm
  • Opinion

By Kate Slyker, Heather Handyside, Megan Mazurek

This holiday season, GCI is encouraging our fellow Alaskans to offer a hand to our most vulnerable neighbors in need. Giving Tuesday on Nov. 30 is a great place to start. Started in 2012, Giving Tuesday began simply: a day to do good. Over the years, it’s found a spot in the squares on our calendars and, more importantly, grown into a movement. The need for giving back and supporting each other is great, especially around the holidays.

Alaskans are a generous group by nature. We share our fish, we shovel each other’s driveways — it’s who we are. Likewise, as an Alaska-born-and-raised company, giving back is just a part of what we do at GCI. It’s built into our company values. Giving Tuesday is truly a great place to start, but it’s not an end. Together, we can make a great impact for a day, but what each of us do with the other 364 days matters, too.

This year, we were proud to support nearly 200 organizations from every region across Alaska that support programs focused on cultural arts and innovation; education; healthy communities; youth; animals; diversity and inclusion; and public safety. We are proud to support the organizations in Alaska that are doing the hard work every day to serve our communities.

One of our main pillars of giving is the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund. This year, our reach to combat suicide in Alaska has extended to Inupiaq youth in Kiana through OPT-In Kiana, LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness in the Mat-Su Valley and the Kenai Peninsula through Choosing Our Roots, and Alaskans with eating disorders through the Alaska Eating Disorder Alliance, to name a few.

In addition to monetary support, we know the importance of recognizing the people who go the extra mile to make Alaska a better place. This year, GCI presented Beverly Hoffman with the GCI Gives Trailblazer of the Year Award for her work with the YK Delta Lifesavers, a group of community members in Bethel concerned by the number of deaths by drowning. Beverly, who operated a community gym in Bethel for years, led the group forward in fundraising to build a swimming pool and offer lifesaving classes. People like Beverly aren’t afraid to do what it takes and it’s our pleasure to honor her and encourage others to follow in her footsteps.

Another way we can all support our communities is through being a good partner. Coming together with others is the best way for us to meet the needs of Alaskans. That’s why we teamed up with Alaska Airlines to cover transportation for the biggest-ever Alaska delegation of Special Olympics athletes, partners, coaches, and support staff to the 2022 USA Games in Orlando. (Special Olympics Alaska, oh yeah!!)

We also encourage employees to give back to their communities, both on and off the clock, by offering 16 hours of paid leave for volunteer efforts. From volunteering at their children’s schools, supporting the tradition of mushing at The Iditarod and Kuskokwim 300, GCI employees do it all. The holiday season is a great time to get out into your community and help, hands-on. We hope to see you out there!

It’s always our goal to connect our neighbors and be a good steward of our resources in Alaska. That’s why, every year, GCI gives more than $2 million in cash, products, and connectivity to organizations across the state to reinvest into our fellow Alaskans. This holiday season, we hope you’ll join us in giving back, whether through donations, volunteering or even bringing more awareness to your favorite nonprofit organizations.

You can even help us! Bonus: it’s easy to do.

We’re giving away tech prizes to an Alaska nonprofit and we need help choosing. Starting on Nov. 24, head to GCI’s social media pages and tag a nonprofit of your choice in the comments of our giveaway post.

We will select one nominee to win our #UnlimitedAlaskaLove giveaway. The nominator whose nonprofit is chosen will also receive their own gift as a thank you. We’ll announce the winner on Giving Tuesday!

Learn more about GCI’s philanthropic mission at www.gci.com/why-gci/gcigives.

• Kate Slyker is GCI’s chief marketing officer, Heather Handyside is GCI’s chief communications officer and Megan Mazurek is GCI’s contributions and events senior manager. The three women work in Anchorage and together they lead the statewide GCI Gives philanthropy program.Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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