Salvation Army Lieutenant Christin Fankhauser is the face behind the local effort to build emergency supply kits for the Homer community. She is standing in the center of a medium sized room lined with shelves of non-perishables.
“Top Ramen, pasta, spaghetti sauce, rice; we have plenty of canned goods from vegetables to rice to beans,” says Fankhauser.
The idea behind the drive is pretty basic. In the event people are displaced by a disaster, like the fires that flared up near Sterling and Cooper Landing recently, they will still have a place to go for the basics. Batteries, flashlights, rope, gloves; all the things a family might not be able to grab in an evacuation.
“Let’s say the firemen come in and say, ‘you have 20 minutes to evacuate.’ In that 20 minutes you have to gather up what you can. Most people are going for their treasure possessions, their irreplaceable things,” explains Fankhauser. “20 minutes is a quite short time.”
Fankhauser says that inability to grab everything while on the run is why cash donations are also extremely important. She explains that when people donate materials they’ll inevitably end up giving the same items and charity groups like the Salvation Army might already have shelters setup to distribute food.
“People might forget something like their prescription medicine. Well of course the community is not able to donate prescription medicine. So somebody gets to a shelter [and] they’ve got their food, they’ve got their shelter, but now they don’t have their prescription meds,” says Fankhauser.
Fankhauser says that people will always donate after disaster strikes but she stresses it’s extremely important to stock up beforehand.
“That way it gives [us] time when we have those donations already [and] we have these kits ready to go. We can setup, we can get going, and that gives us time for all the organizations to get together and say, ‘this is what we’re going to do [and] this is what you’re going to do,’” explains Fankhauser.
She says that way the Salvation Army, local churches and any other organizations responding can evaluate the gaps they still need filled by the community as opposed to starting off from scratch. The program Fankhauser is building is new and they haven’t built a strong relationship with local charities yet; but she’s confident if a disaster struck, they’d still be a strong safety net able to catch those hit hardest.
“We also have a disaster coordinator for the entire state. She’s a resource for us, she is in Anchorage and if were to have a huge disaster up here they would come down with their mobile canteens that they already have,” says Fankhauser.
In the meantime, Fankhauser is just trying to secure donations. She says they haven’t received many items for the kits yet and the drive ends at on the last day of June.
“I thought maybe I had advertised adequately by sending notice to the papers and the radio, and posting on Facebook, and sending notices to the city and the chamber. I don’t really know if the community even knows that we’re collecting,” says Fankhauser.
She says people can leave items in the Salvation Army’s collection bin at Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware Store. There are lists of the things needed inside of the store.