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Alaska Air Group food drive fills 9 cargo jets for the hungry in 30 cities


Generous employees across the Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air network turned out in force to fill the equivalent of more than nine cargo airplanes for another record-breaking "Pack the Plane" food drive this year. Their contributions of about $44,000 and nearly 13,000 pounds of food exceeded last year's drive that filled 7.5 planes.

"We've beaten the previous record every year," said Claire Sowers, programs and events specialist who led this year's effort. "Our amazing employees stepped it up and beat the record again. I could not be more proud."

Donations poured in from Washington, D.C., to Fairbanks, Sitka to San Diego and Loreto to Las Vegas. Sixty workgroups in 30 cities (see list below) participated, including these top six contributors:

1) Anchorage Cargo: $5,062 and 216 pounds of food
2) Seattle Flight Operations: $4,418 and 300 pounds of food
3) Seattle IT: $3,309 and 50 pounds of food
4) Seattle Inflight: $2,900 and 178 pounds of food
5) Sitka Airport Station: $2,534 and 300 pounds of food
6) Seattle Airport Station: $2,295 and 186 pounds of food

Carrie Vanderwood, administrative assistant for Anchorage Cargo and leader of the top contributing team, said her group raised money through bake sales, Mexican food offerings and pizza.

"The biggest money-maker for our department came from [Customer Service Agent] Emie Diamond, who prepared more than 100 pre-orders of Thai and Filipino food for our employees," Vanderwood said. "We're very happy to have exceeded our goal of $4,000—we packed a whole airplane. Helping others in need is very important to our workgroup. We have a crew of very caring people working in Anchorage Cargo."

Boise Call Center Agent MaryLou Buchta said her team built a replica of a cargo warehouse area and challenged everyone to see how much food could be placed there. "We didn't do anything special—we just asked and the office gave like they always do," Buchta said.

Noting that there never seems to be a shortage of food in the Flight Operations and Training Center in Seattle, Pilot Scheduling Supervisor Trish Barney said: "Food is very important and we can't imagine having to go hungry. This time of year there are many causes to donate to, but one that deals with food, a life essential, tops the list for us. We like to think of all the families we were able to help with our donations."

Barney said she's also happy to see so many cities participate. "Programs like this show that we're proud of all the communities we serve. It's the Alaska Spirit way."

Donated money and food stays in those communities and is given to local food banks.

Alaska and Horizon employees donated food and money to food banks in these cities:

Anchorage, Alaska
Barrow, Alaska
Bethel, Alaska
Boise, Idaho
Burbank, Calif.
Eugene, Ore.
Fairbanks, Alaska
Helena, Mont.
Kalispell, Mont.
Kotzebue, Alaska
Las Vegas
Loreto, Mexico
Los Angeles
Oakland, Calif.
Oklahoma City
Ontario, Calif.
Palm Springs, Calif.
Petersburg, Alaska
Portland, Ore.
Pullman, Wash.
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose, Calif.
Santa Ana, Calif.
Sitka, Alaska
Spokane, Wash.
Washington, D.C.

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