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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

From Baking to Gold Mining-Community Service Alaska

From Baking to Gold Mining-Community Service Alaska

To prepare for the 4th of July Bake Sale supporting the Food Bank of Alaska, we baked hundreds of sweet treats and bagged and labelled them all at the Hillside Ski Area in Anchorage. Who knew we had so many expert bakers? After a hard morning’s work we went to the Food Bank of Alaska to learn all about the food bank’s distribution system (which serves the entire state!) and to learn about the poverty and hunger that plagues many people of the north. It served as a powerful reminder to us for how important the work is that we are doing. On the 4th we got decked out in red, white, and blue and headed to downtown Anchorage to sell our baked goods. Brandon, Clay, and Cody thought it would be a good idea to contact the local news in hopes of spreading word for our fundraiser, and it worked! The news showed up and interviewed Helen and Sarah, who proudly represented us. Lizzie, Claire, Jackie, Hallie, and Emily brought baked goods down to the parade to sell to the crowds, and that strategy paid off. We ended up raising over $500 for the Food Bank of Alaska!

The next day we set out to volunteer for an organization in Anchorage that provides hot meals to children, called Kids Kitchen. We enjoyed a nice outdoor game of capture the flag with some of the kids the organization supports, then we brought the fun into the gym with games of dodgeball and basketball. It was smiling faces all around. Clay, Cody and Brandon impressed us with their basketball skills as they kept up with some very well-practised and talented young players. After cooking for and serving the children, Claire and Jackie insisted on cleaning up the dishes for the evening’s meal. I think the folks and Kids Kitchen looked forward to having us back the next day!

In the evening we went on a short hike in Kincaid State Park, a short drive from the southwest of Anchorage. Cody, Claire and Sam found two Bald Eages perched atop a tree not 30 feet away from us. It was the closest we had ever been to the beautiful birds, and we marvelled at their wingspans as they flew away. Not long after that the whole group encountered a bull Moose (a male moose) grazing right by the path. We kept walking and found the rest of his family, a cow and a calf curled up together. It was very exciting for all of us.

We spent the next morning cycling along the Pacific Ocean from downtown Anchorage south along the Pacific Ocean. The weather was perfect and the scenery was spectacular. At points along the path, we could see mountain ranges in every direction. Lizzie took to the ride like a natural on this 3-hour tour. Again, we saw a Bull Moose happily grazing only a few feet away from us the bike path. Its antlers were enormous.

We spent another afternoon with Kids Kitchen. Claire just about adopted one of the children, and Jackie, Emily, Lizzie, and Sarah had become so close with the group through reading to the kids and playing games. Some of the kids wanted to know if we would move to Anchorage, so that we could hang out again. As we were driving away we could see them through the windows waving good-bye.

Today we began our day with a friendly round of Disc Golf at the 18-basket course at Hillside Ski Area in Anchorage. Then we went to the Saturday market in downtown, where the group ate some delicious Salmon quesadillas, wraps, fresh donuts, ice cream, and enough food to make trip members ask “can we not have dinner tonight?” We wandered around admiring the beautiful Alaskan crafts and wares, then got back into the vans and headed south along the beautiful Seward highway towards the Crow Creek Gold Mine. Courtney could hardly believe the scenery, and neither could anyone else. The incredible mountains, valleys, and ocean were absolutely breathtaking.

Once at the gold mine, we panned for gold in a river that ran down from a frozen mountain. The water had a bright grey-blue hue from the glacial silt, and was indescribly beautiful. We were laughing the whole way through!

Looking forward to writing again soon!

The Westcoast Blogger