Foundation fund

Alaska Community Foundation creates fund to accept donations for storm-ravaged Western Alaska

Alaskans looking to help storm-affected communities in Western Alaska can donate to the Alaska Community Foundation.

Nina Kemppel, CEO and president of the Anchorage-based nonprofit, said the goal will be to get relief as quickly as possible for basic needs like food and shelter. The Alaska Community Foundation was established an online portal Saturday to start accepting donations.

Kemppel’s first call was to Diane Kaplan, CEO and President of the Rasmuson Foundation. Kaplan wrote out a check for $25,000. Within minutes, Kaplan said, Alaska Airlines had matched that $25,000 donation. Saltchuk, a transportation and logistics company, also donated $25,000, and Grant Aviation had donated $5,000 to match the $5,000 donated by the Alaska Community Foundation itself.

Kemppel said the nonprofit has experience raising funds and distributing rapid relief. He played that role in 2020 in Haines after a landslide killed two people and damaged dozens of homes in the small southeast Alaska town. Now the nonprofit is looking to raise a lot more.

“I would even set a very ambitious goal of raising half a million dollars, which won’t be close to repairing all the damage,” Kemppel said.

It is not known exactly where this money will go. Kaplan said “information continues to come in” about the greatest needs and what will be needed for the recovery and rebuilding process.

“We assume food is going to be a big deal, getting it to people,” she said. “And then there are a lot of people who have lost all their belongings, where their houses have been flooded. So they are going to need clothes and everything you need around the house. We assume there is going to be a need for temporary shelter.

Bryan Fisher, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, stressed Saturday night that Alaskans seeking to help should make monetary donations instead of donating goods or services.

“Cash is king,” he said, urging Alaskans to donate to “reputable” charities like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Marilyn Romano, regional vice president of Alaska Airlines, said the $25,000 donation was seen as the best way to help accelerate the region’s recovery. The airline has employees who live and work in Bethel, Nome and Kotzebue and it said the biggest concern is the safety and well-being of those communities.

Romano, who sits on the board of the Rasmuson Foundation, said the airline would also play a key role in distributing relief. A jet was able to fly into Nome on Sunday morning carrying essential supplies after flooding receded from the runway.

“There were diapers, there was formula, bottled water, non-perishable foods that package easily and have a longer shelf life,” Romano said.

She said in the days and weeks ahead, Alaska Airlines will work with regional air carriers to help supply towns like Golovin and Hooper Bay, which were hit hard by the massive storm.