‘Relief for Wrangell’ Food and Toy Drive continues through this week

By Jasz Garrett

The U-Haul was almost full after Friday’s donations. (Photo credit Jordan Lewis)

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – The community of Juneau is coming together to rally donations and support Wrangell after a fatal Nov. 20 landslide.

The Wrangell Food and Toy Drive began on Monday and will continue through Friday, Dec. 15.

The Juneau Media Center across from Twin Lakes and the Juneau Auto Mall near the Airport are serving as drop-off locations for donations of non-perishable food, baby supplies, and unwrapped Christmas gifts. Drop-offs will be accepted during business hours.

The Juneau Media Center held a Drive Through Wrangell Rally on Friday morning. Super Bear and Foodland both donated two truckloads filled with essential food items and baby supplies.

Dee Kozodoi, who works at Costco, also donated a substantial load of items that effectively filled the entire backloading area of a First Student bus. (Photo credit Cliff Dumas)

Many community members of Juneau made sure to stop by on their way to work or school, and an anonymous donor announced Friday morning that they would match every donation made that day.

President of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank Jeremiah Beedle said the efforts are coordinated by Southeast Alaska Stands Together, which is how Beedle and friends helped Haines after its Dec. 2, 2020 landslide.

“Keeping everyone safe was going to be their top priority. And Christmas was not something that they were going to be able to focus a lot on. So, we went ahead and we called up the Salvation Army in Haines and we asked them in what ways could we help,” he said. “They had been cut off from getting food sent to them from the Food Bank out of Anchorage. We went out and touched base with the food bank here in town. They were happy to send several thousand pounds of food immediately.”

He said during Haines’ time of need, Wrangell was there to help with donations. Beedle said it’s time to give back.

“We’re separated by water but that water is the Alaska Marine Highway. So, we’re separated by a highway. You know, we’re neighbors. Everyone growing up here in Southeast Alaska you realize that you come and go from Juneau,” Beedle said. “They have friends and family here. They need to know that, anywhere in Southeast needs to know that we as the hub here, we’re going to stand up and we’re going to help out wherever we can.”

Beedle said that Wrangell was already struggling economically, and now with the tragedy of the landslide, they need the support more than ever.

“They just had a rough fishing year. They’re a very strong fishing community. They’re not going to ask for help. They’re going to button up and they’re going to take care of themselves, but we’re going to offer it,” he said. “This is one of those ways we can say, hey, look, you know, there’s not much we can do. We’re not there. But this is something we can do. So, let us let us help out with these things.”

Beedle said the Salvation Army in Wrangell was already low on food before the landslide occurred. The Salvation Army gave out Thanksgiving boxes and is planning to hand out Christmas boxes.

“Quite a few people are finding themselves in a bind that had never found themselves there before,” Beedle said.

After Dec. 15, all donations will be packaged and delivered to the Salvation Army in Wrangell for distribution.

The Alaska Marine Highway System has donated space for the full U-Hauls to get on the ferry and drop off items to Wrangell. Alaska Marine Lines is also helping out in transporting supplies.

Beedle said on Friday that only about 40 items are still needed off the listed Amazon wishlist that can be shipped directly to the community at checkout. All someone has to do is click on The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Gift Registry address for shipping.

Nonperishable food items and baby supplies are the most needed as the drive continues.

Donations pile around a Christmas tree inside the Juneau Media Center on Friday morning. Photo credit Jasz Garrett