Food Drive Helps Elder Customer-Owners With Holiday Meals

For more than 20 years, Southcentral Foundation’s Elder Program has spread holiday cheer by hosting a food drive to help provide Elder customer-owners with food for the holidays. According to the Food Bank of Alaska, approximately 1 in 10 Alaska seniors faces the threat of hunger. To help address this fact, the Elder Program typically collects about 1,000 food items each year. In 2019, the goal was 2,500 food items — approximately one food item per SCF employee. Employees from across the Alaska Native Health Campus donated foods such as cranberry sauce, Pilot Bread, stuffing, canned milk, pureed pumpkin, turkey, sweet potatoes, tea, and coffee.

SCF employees went above and beyond the goal to support Elder customer-owners in need of assistance with holiday meals. The total food items collected by employees was 2,800. A special thanks goes to two generous SCF departments. The Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center Dental Clinic donated 748 items and the SCF Anchorage dental clinics which gathered 1,131 food items.

The RAISE Program employees and interns partnered with the Elder Program to sort and put together the abundance of food donations. RAISE intern participation was a crucial opportunity to pass on the traditional Alaska Native values of honoring Elder community members and giving back to the community.

RAISE Program Intern Supervisor Shannon Hawkins expressed gratitude for the chance to lend a helping hand to the program. “I noticed the interns started a competition of who could fill the most boxes. It wasn’t long until all 48 boxes were filled with Thanksgiving meals for Elder customer-owners. On the ride back to campus all the interns were thankful and overjoyed with their experience in supporting the Elder Program. It’s important to help out at the Elder Program because Elder customer-owners need as much love and attention as our younger generation.”

Elder Program employees delivered boxes of food to Elder customer-owners for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. “The support from the Southcentral Foundation community is critical in helping Elder customer-owners. It allows them to celebrate the holidays with their families when they would otherwise be unable to,” shared Elder Program Manager Chris Klabunde. The annual food drive helps many customer-owners who benefit from the support, like Alaska Native Elder Alfreda Tolman. She retired from the Elder Program in 2018 after 20 years of dedicated service as an Elder provider. Tolman was a valued employee of the program and worked tirelessly each day to support the needs of Elder Program customer-owners. She assisted with program activities such as the monthly Elder Program potluck, special events, store outings, and food delivery.

Since her retirement, Tolman now attends the Elder Program as a customer-owner. She enjoys the hot lunches provided, games and activities, and socializing with other Elder customer-owners. This year she was one of 48 who receive a box of food for the holidays. Thank you to all SCF departments for coming together to spread holiday cheer to Elder customer-owners and their families.

For more information about volunteer opportunities or services provided at the Elder Program, contact the Elder Program at (907) 729-6500.

by Esther Robertson

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