Yulista CARES Delivers Backpacks to Middle Kusko Schools
Hundreds of Backpacks to Calista Region
Storyknife, September/October 2023 edition
Yulista CARES delivered 400 backpacks filled with supplies to Middle Kuskokwim schools in Kalskag, Aniak, Crooked Creek, Sleetmute, Chuathbaluk and Stony River on the first and second day of school this year. Staff from Yulista Holding, a Calista Corporation subsidiary, came up to Alaska from Huntsville, Alabama to deliver the backpacks and school supplies to seven of those schools.
“It’s amazing how Yulista coordinated this all together to give our kids [pre-k to 12th grade] a wonderful start to our school year—especially on the first day of school,” says Christian Caldarera, Kalskag village schools principal.
This year surpassed previous years’ goals and Yulista, Calista and other subsidiary employee donations raised enough to supply students across the nation with 1,941 backpacks filled with school supplies and 400 hygiene kits this fall. Outside of Alaska, backpacks were donated to schools in Alabama, Tennessee, Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida and Hawaii, communities in which Yulista and Calista subsidiaries do business.
“Our students are so thankful and appreciative,” Caldarera says. “It’s different out here [in Kalskag], we take care of one another, and we have to. Knowing there are people from Yulista who are doing great things for us will make a big impact—and it will make a big impact in the entire community.”
The Calista Region is home to over 40 schools, and after this year’s trip, the Yulista CARES Backpack Campaign has delivered backpacks and school supplies to students at 29 schools in the Region. All students in the Kuspuk School District received a new backpack and supplies this year.
“It feels nice to get a new bag. My younger siblings don’t have bags, so they will be happy,” says Matthew Nayamin, Kalskag 11th grader. “I’m happy to be back in school hanging out with friends, but when I graduate, I want to move out of Kalskag to see new places and meet new people.”
The Yulista CARES Backpack Campaign is not just a chance to deliver backpacks and supplies to schools in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region, it’s a chance for Calista Shareholders and Descendants to learn about opportunities they have after high school.
“It’s great to see the students in the Region, let them know what we do, and let them know about the internships, scholarships and many opportunities as a Calista Shareholder, or even about enrollment,” says Diana Slaughter, Calista Shareholder and Yulista employee who organized this year’s backpack campaign.
Students in each community received their own backpacks and supplies, and older siblings see the impact it has on the younger siblings.
“I have two younger siblings, and this will help encourage them to learn,” says Adrian Murphy, an Aniak 10th grader. “For myself, I plan to go to college once I graduate, and do something in the health field. I want to go in this direction because my mom is a health aide and my auntie is a nurse.”