GCI, Matson donate to Tongan relief efforts

Matson, GCI offer donations to help Tongan relief efforts
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 9:46 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In the aftermath of the Hunga Tonga undersea volcanic eruption on Jan. 15, Alaskans and Alaskan companies are working to provide aid to the island nation of Tonga.

Alaska-headquartered GCI announced a $2,500 donation to the Polynesian Association of Alaska on Wednesday.

“It’s difficult to be here in Alaska knowing that family thousands of miles away may be struggling. We’re happy to be able to support relief efforts,” Chief Communications Officer Heather Handyside said in the release.

The Hunga Tonga Ha’apai volcano was the largest volcanic eruption in the world over the last three decades, resulting in three deaths and damage to dozens of homes on multiple islands.

Communication from Tonga had been stopped when the only fiber-optic cable connecting Tonga to the rest of the world was severed by the massive blast, though some satellite communications have since been improved, and supplies have been delivered without contact by countries around the Pacific Ocean.

“Being a good neighbor is an important part of our company values, which means being able to respond to unforeseen circumstances and natural disasters that happen throughout the year,” GCI Contributions and Events Senior Manager Megan Mazurek said in the press release.

One of the biggest shipping and logistics companies that serve Alaska is also delivering relief supplies such as food, water, and farming equipment free of charge to Tonga in an effort to help. Matson announced it will be partnering with community organizations in Auckland, New Zealand and the Polynesian American Association to contribute $251,000 in goods toward disaster aid for the island nation.

“Matson’s commitment to the communities that we serve is making sure that they’re taken care of,” Matson Community Affairs Manager Dylan Faber said. “Making sure we are delivering those supplies and goods in both good times and in times of need such as Tonga is experiencing.”

In addition, Matson has also launched an employee donation drive that will match donations from Matson employees with equal contributions to the New Zealand Red Cross’ Pacific Tsunami Appeal Fund for Tonga Disaster Relief.

In order to expedite the relief shipments, Matson will be redirecting some vessels for a special voyage this week and is planning two additional voyages during the next three weeks.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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