Wrangell Community Benefits from 'Bear Basics'

Adventist Community Services (ACS) of Alaska and the Wrangell (Alaska) Church opened the state's first ACS thrift shop, Bear Basics, on Sept. 28, 2011. It began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony officiated by Ephraim Palmero, ACS of Alaska executive director.

People from all walks of life explored the store. Mothers with children invaded the grocery section to take advantage of low-priced food, and racks hung with used name-brand clothing were emptied, leaving volunteers astonished by the response.

"This is one of the best shops that serve our struggling town folks," says one native lady. "I will be coming here regularly with my friends."

Wrangell Church's community services outreach is primarily involved in food and commodity distribution in partnership with the USDA and Food Bank of Alaska. The food program serves more than 400 clients in an average month in a Tlingit city of 2,400 nestled on an island at the mouth of the Stikine River.

"We like to widen our response not only to food but also to include clothing. Jesus wants us to do this to serve the suffering people around us," says Charleen Howard, ACS of Alaska store manager. Victims of disasters are always free to pick what they need from the shop, and volunteers want to have relationships with these suffering people.

Sometimes, people cannot see the Bible we are handing to them, but they can feel the compassionate presence we share with them at low periods of their lives.

January 01, 2012 / Alaska Conference