Donations pour into Stebbins as village reels from loss of only grocery store

a fire in a building
The ANICA Stebbins store, the only store in the Western Alaska village, burned down after catching fire on Nov. 29, 2022. (Courtesy of Linda Greta Camillus)

Donations are coming from around the state to help the Northwest Alaska village of Stebbins, after the community lost its only grocery store in a fire on Tuesday

State emergency officials say two pallets of donations from the Food Bank, Bering Straits Regional Corporation and other partners arrived in the village Thursday. 

Lydia Raymond-Snowball, president of the local tribal government, said the city is working on distributing those supplies. Donations also came in from local health care providers Kawarek and Norton Sound Health Corp. 

“Right now, Kawarek is doing a donation dropoff,” Raymond-Snowball said. “It includes food, formula, diapers, wipes, water, feminine products.”

The now-destroyed ANICA Stebbins store was the only local source for groceries and fuel in the Yup’ik community of just over 600 residents.

In its absence, Raymond-Snowball said community members have had to travel to their neighboring village St. Michael, about 12 miles away.

“We’ve been having to go there to get our stove oil, to get gas, to get food,” she said. “I believe the city of Stebbins is doing services for people that have no vehicles, making runs for them.”

Raymond-Snowball said there’s still an air of sadness in Stebbins after the loss of the store. But she said she’s  grateful for donations that have come in from neighboring communities. She said St. Michaels officials have discussed donating reindeer meat to Stebbins, and one man has offered to donate sheefish he’s caught. 

“We’ll be giving them away,” Raymond-Snowball said. “He said he’s going out again today to check his net and bring them here, so that we can distribute the sheefish — one per household.”

There have been no reported injuries from the fire. The state fire marshal’s office is still investigating its cause. 

Stebbins is located about 120 miles southeast of Nome.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org

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