Thanks to a new direct flight, Unalaskans are bringing food and clothes to their northern neighbors on St. George Island, some 200 miles across the Bering Sea.
The community of 60 people has already received dozens of boxes filled with canned goods, winter clothing, and spare blankets.
"I can't thank the people enough in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor for caring about us," said Mayor Pat Pletnikoff of St. George. "It's pretty amazing."
The donation drive started in October, after Grant Aviation opened a new route between the islands and announced a limited-time promotional fare of $25 each way.
Harriet Berikoff is one of the drive's organizers. She said Unalaskans jumped at the affordable opportunity to help St. George stock up, as its grocery deliveries are often delayed by poor weather.
"I think people have been going up there just because it's cheap," said Berikoff. "We've been piggy backing off them, so we don't have to pay freight on the food or clothes we're sending. [Passengers] are allowed 100 pounds apiece."
The $25 offer is set to expire in the New Year, so Berikoff said Unalaska's participating churches and nonprofits are taking advantage while they can.
That group includes the Qawalangin Tribe, the Holy Ascension Cathedral, and Unalaska Christian Fellowship, along with the local Girl Scout troop and Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence (USAFV).
"Now we're getting ready for Thanksgiving, so the Lions Club donated money to buy turkeys and all the stuff for their Thanksgiving dinners," said Berikoff. "Everybody's kind of pitching in."
The donations are being shared throughout St. George, and Pletnikoff said they're making a big difference in the community, where the cost of living is high and work is hard to come by.
"Things are pretty costly, and we do have people here who are not as gainfully employed as they might be," he said. "So folks are tremendously grateful for the expression of care and love that comes from these kinds of efforts."
Unalaskans interested in contributing to those efforts can find donation drops at the island's grocery stores and several community nonprofits. Organizers are also looking for anyone traveling to St. George who'd be willing to donate some of his or her freight allowance.
For more information, call Harriet Berikoff at 581-1287, Julia Dushkin at 581-1456, or Unalaska Christian Fellowship at 581-1282.