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Fairbanks labor unions partner to donate Thanksgiving turkeys to community food bank

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 4:15 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks labor unions have partnered to help donate hundreds of Thanksgiving turkeys to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.

According to Douglas Tansy, President of the Fairbanks Central Labor Council, the labor unions have been a large supporter of the foodbank for many years.

“For nearly the last decade, our organization, the Fairbanks Central Labor Council working with the Fairbanks Boating and Construction Trades Council has donated turkeys to the food bank for Thanksgiving,” Tansy explained. “It started off as just an idea to help out. As we got involved, we helped out with the distribution at the Lutheran Church, and we found out the need was higher than we actually thought. So we’ve actually been working to increase our donation, to increase our capacity to help sponsor stuff. A year ago we made up 40% of the turkeys that were donated to the food bank for Thanksgiving.”

For the various organizations that make up the Fairbanks Central Labor Council, the food bank is only one way that they contribute to the community.

“We do a lot of things,” Tansy elaboated. “Certainly our organizations and affiliates help fund the Central Labor Council, and with that each affiliate has a way to vote. We do things throughout the community all the time. Donations for kids’ groups, sponsorships, anything we can do to lift the social and economic fabric of our community, because we’re all a part of it. We want to be embedded in the community, and that means we try to help out things that we believe in, which is one of the things here with the food bank.”

This year, the organizations gathered an abundance of turkey for the community, with the final tally out at 240.

“Every year, it’s something that we build toward,” Tansy continued. “We have around $7,000 that we’re purchasing to donate the Thanksgiving turkeys. But the cool part is we get to go out and help with the distribution, and we have plenty of friends and family, and other people that we know, acquaintances through work, that have utilized the food bank. A lot of people have expected that they’d never need to, but we’re still thankful that they had the opportunity to get access to it, and we’re thankful that we have the opportunity to help that out and be part of our community and help people out when they need it.”

For some union members, the food bank has been part of their lives for a long time and they are proud to give back to the community.

Lake Williams, President of the Building and Constructions Trades Council remarked, “I’ve been born and raised here, and I’ve come here and done community service before and it’s a great thing. We all get busy, and I’ve seen one of our retirees from the Operators back there rolling that’s been here probably 15 years helping out every day. It’s pretty amazing. There’s a lot of people in need, and it’s a great community to grow up in, and it’s great when people give back and have the time to give back.”

William Walters, Business Agent with the Alaska State Employees Association AFSCME Local 52 also commented that by donating to the foodbank they help those who need it, and sometimes those who need it are their own members.

We’re part of the Central Labor Council and have been for a long time, maybe since the founding of it,” Walters commented. “Our folks are public employees working for the state, and there are other public employee unions involved as well, coming from the feds, from the borough, from the university and from the various state employee unions. The truth is we’re all part of this community and integrated into it, and on occasion we need this. Our people wind up in a situation where they need help, and so we are very much interested and glad to help with this. The people that we serve in this little effort are, you know... those are our neighbors, our family, friends.”

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