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Providence Seward Medical Center raised $24,440 for Seward’s He Will Provide Food Bank during a four-day fundraising drive over the weekend. Providence Hospitals offered to match donations, up to a total of $50,000, for food banks through the Providence Alaska Foundation.

Preston M. Simmons, chief executive officer for Providence Health & Services Alaska said in a letter last week, “During our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Providence has been overwhelmed by offers of support from across our community. Generous Alaskans from all walks of life have reached out to provide meal donations, volunteer hours and personal protective equipment. At the same time, jobless claims are soaring in Alaska and agencies across the state are seeing more families experiencing food insecurity.

“Now we have the opportunity to give back to the communities that have done so much to support our caregivers. Providence is launching a four-day giving campaign to help feed hungry Alaska families.”

In addition to He Will Provide Food Bank in Seward, the Food Bank of Alaska in Anchorage, Salvation Army Kodiak Corps, and the Valdez Food Bank are to receive donations.

Providence employees donated a total of $35,970, which Providence matched dollar for dollar. In a letter about the giving, Simmons said the remaining unused match was split between the four food banks, bringing the total giving by Providence and its employees to over $85,000.

Mike Little, president of He Will Provide Food Bank said in a phone interview Tuesday evening he was not aware of the donation that is forthcoming but was astonished by the news. He said Providence has been supportive of He Will Provide in the past, and this donation will help the organization serve Seward families.

“We’re just really grateful and overwhelmed with the generosity of our community,” Little said. “People are dropping off financial help and groceries.”

He said the food bank normally services about 80 families, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has increased to about 110 people weekly.

They have had to change their distribution program due to the pandemic. In the past recipients have been able to come into the facility and pick from items, but with the social distancing requirement and the need to distribute safe products, recipients now are given a bag of assorted food items.

“Instead of coming inside, recipients walk up and we provide them with food supplies,” he said.

The food bank is open on Thursdays between 3 and 6 p.m. for the pickup of items. Recipients should come to the back of the old library building at Fifth Avenue and Adams Street for pickup. To make donations, call Little at (907) 769-1395.

Publisher

Michael Paschall is publisher of the Seward Journal and president of TriDelta, Incorporated Publishing, owners of the Seward Journal.