The Salvation Army Kake Corps Uses All Means to Bring Christmas Joy to Community
Each Christmas season, The Salvation Army Kake Corps Christmas distribution brings joy to both children and elders living in the primarily Alaska Native community on Kupreanof Island in Southeast Alaska. Kake is a small rural community of about 560 people who have had many struggles in the past few years. Although food insecurity has hit an all-time high for many families this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of Kake have been dealing with food insecurity for the past few years. The reason mainly having to do with the lack of air and state maritime transportation to the community. Lt. Catherine Dooley, Corps Officer for Kake, has been leading The Salvation Army’s efforts to bring spiritual support and assistance to all in the community who are in need.
“Even in a normal year, Christmas is a little different here than most Salvation Army locations,” said Lt. Dooley. “There is just one kettle at the general store, and nowhere to put an Angel Tree, so the local Christmas toy distribution is usually dependent on leftovers from other corps. Although the Kake Corps has never been left in need during Christmas, last year the Corps was excited to receive a handful of gifts from Walmart’s online Registry for Good. This year, the corps had been blessed by a much greater response to the Registry in addition to the digital Angel Tree. Eighty-six local angels - children and elders - signed up to receive gifts. Even in Kake, Christmas and The Salvation Army go hand in hand.”
Despite having a slow rural internet connection, Lt. Dooley was the first of many Corps officers to create a virtual Angel Tree option for Salvation Army supporters to donate towards the annual program. In the virtual program, supporters can choose an elder or a child to purchase a requested gift for and mail or deliver the gift to the Kake Corps for distribution. Additionally, Walmart’s Registry for Good allowed for gifts to be purchased on Walmart.com and delivered straight to the corps to be provided to any child.
“We had 76 children and 10 elders sign-up to receive Christmas assistance this year. Clothing, winter coats and boots were popular requests. One elder asked for a tabletop magnifying glass with a light for reading and another asked for a coffee maker. Both requests were met,” said Lt. Dooley. “Learning toys, Frozen-themed items, Barbie items, Legos, cars and trucks were popular requests among children. One family of girls wanted face masks, another wanted hair accessories. We have a one-year-old girl named Kayla who loves dinosaurs and asked for a raincoat and sparkly high heels. We were blessed to provide her with both as well as a fun dress to go with her heels.” [Kayla pictured left in her gifted heels and dress]
In addition to individual donors that adopted angels through the online portals, Alaska local companies Rock-N-Road Construction and Tlingit & Haida Central Council adopted multiple angels from Kake to choose gifts for. There was also a cash donation made by a local company, IPEC, in addition to a few individual donors to support the program.
This year, Kake Corps was able to provide 200 gifts for the 86 angels that registered. Due to the success of the Walmart Registry for Good program and the virtual Angel Tree website, Kake Corps plans to continue to use these programs in the future in order to make Christmas a little brighter for community members.