Alaska Governor Sarah Palin teamed up with Franklin Graham and faith-based Samaritan's Purse last week to deliver food to hundreds of families along the frozen Yukon River that have been hit hard by an unusually harsh winter.
"There are huge needs out here in these villages, great needs," Graham told Alaskan media during the Feb. 20 distribution.
According to Graham's organization, many along the Yukon say they've been eating only once a day after running short on the fish and berries they stored away last year. Others are so impoverished they have had to choose between heat and food in an area where a gallon of fuel can cost $8 and a gallon of milk can run as high as $10.
"Sometimes when you're in these little villages, you wonder, 'Has the rest of the world forgotten us?'" noted Graham.
In an effort to provide hope and help, Samaritan's Purse started donating and distributing 44 thousand pounds of groceries to needy families and people in the villages of Marshall and Russian Mission, located just below the Arctic Circle, approximately 400 to 500 miles from Anchorage.
"This has been given by churches, by Christians from all across the country. The governor's office is [also] part of this," Graham reported.
According to Gov. Palin, one of the purposes behind the distribution is to show "it's the public-private partnerships that are key here."
"The solutions to meeting a lot of the challenges in Alaska, government's not going to be the solution. It can't be the entire answer that is sought from those who are in need," she told the Anchorage Daily News, "but it's working with the faith-based community, with other non-profits, with charitable individuals who know that Alaskans and others ... we all pull together when others are in need. This is going to illustrate that."
For nearly 40 years, Samaritan's Purse has worked in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution. Graham, the organization's president and CEO, also serves as the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the nearly 60-year-old ministry founded by his father, renowned evangelist Billy Graham.
According to Samaritan's Purse, the organization's aircraft will deliver the remaining food to families in the villages of Marshall and Russian Mission after churches in Anchorage and Wasilla finish packing them. Samaritan's Purse is also delivering hundreds of boxes of food to villages throughout the state.