Alaska Salvation Army rallies to aid Bethel schoolchildren

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Bethel-School-backpacksCash and school supplies help students after fire ravages their school.

The Salvation Army in Alaska recently raised more than $1,000 and collected 545 pounds of donations for students in Bethel in the wake of the fire that devastated the Kilbuck school building–a well-known local landmark.

Located near Alaska’s west coast, Bethel is an isolated city of about 6,300 people, approximately 400 miles west of Anchorage.

The fire destroyed a Yup’ik language immersion school and damaged a boarding school housed in the same building. No serious injuries were reported.

Jenni Ragland, Emergency Services director for The Salvation Army in Alaska, was proud of how quickly the needed supplies accumulated at the Army’s divisional headquarters in Anchorage.

“Over just a few days, Alaskans demonstrated once again how generous and eager to help their fellow Alaskans they are,” she said. “Providing support to those who need it is always easier when the community is so swift to respond.”

After consulting with officials in Bethel, The Salvation Army put the word out that students in Bethel needed school supplies as soon as possible. A dedicated donation link was set up on The Salvation Army website and solicitations distributed through social media. The response was amazing, with support from businesses, individuals and local schoolchildren. Scenic Park Elementary School in Anchorage hosted an impromptu collection effort and collected four large boxes of school supplies and backpacks. The supplies were packed and delivered to ACE Cargo, which provided free shipping to get the items to Bethel.

Between donated supplies and cash contributions The Salvation Army was able to send the Bethel students everything they asked for to regain a semblance of normalcy. Donations included basic supplies plus extra items, including backpacks, glue, markers, crayons and pencil boxes. Along with the school supplies, The Salvation Army provided new underwear and socks for students displaced from the Kuskokwim Learning Academy boarding school following the fire.

Currently, The Salvation Army is in the process of establishing an outpost in Bethel, which will serve as both a church and a social services center.

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