Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Boys and Girls Club of Fairbanks

Kids at the Fairbanks Boys & Girls Club were excited to open gifts from the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Radiology Department. Photo courtesy Fairbanks Boys & Girls Club

FAIRBANKS — Eighty children at the Boys & Girls Club of Fairbanks enjoyed a happier holiday season, thanks to the Radiology Department at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

It’s a tradition the hospital employees have continued for the past four years.

“We’re up to 80 gifts this year,” said Deison Rios, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fairbanks. “So all of our kids were able to get presents. It has really become something our kids look forward to.”

Holidays can be a stressful time for some of the kids who frequent the Boys & Girls Club, he said. Some kids are in foster care and others won’t see their parents at all over the holidays. That stress shows up in increased negative behavior, he said.

The center provides a safe place for kids and teens from 3:30 to about 6:30 p.m. Although 375 families joined the club in 2018, regular daily attendance hovers at about 80 youngsters.

Four years ago, the FMH Radiology Department proposed collecting gifts from its employees and sharing them with kids at the club. That first year, about 50 kids regularly attended the after-school program.

Generous employees at the department collected gifts for ages 7-10, 11-14 and 15-18.

“They were all in boxes, filled with toys for the younger ones, like little Lego sets and gift cards and hats and scarves for the older ones. And lots of candy. The kids absolutely love that,” Rios said.

“The following year, they did it again.

“Now, we’re up to 80 gifts this year, and all of our kids were able to get presents,” he added. “For some of our teens, that’s the only gifts they get.”

“It really is so generous of them,” Rios said.

The Boys & Girls Club of Fairbanks, 645 Eighth Ave., has been in existence for 25 years and offers a variety of programs for youths, including games, art and cooking activities. There is also a teen center with video games for that age group. The program is funded through fundraising and grants, Rios said.

Lecture on fruits, berries set for Friday

“Fruits, Berries and Surprising things that Grow in Alaska” is the topic of OLLI’s First Friday Winter lecture from 3-4:30 p.m. Friday at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center theater.

The speaker is Tom Zimmer, of Calypso Farm and Ecology Center.

Zimmer and Susan Willsrud created a small, community-supported agriculture operation that became Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, now a thriving hub for on-farm education programs, the School Garden Initiative and community markets. Its mission is to encourage local food production and environmental awareness through hands-on education in natural and farming ecosystems.

OLLI is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UAF. This talk is free and open to the public. For more information, see www.uaf.edu/olli.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMKris.