A female harbor seal pup that was admitted to the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program on May 4 is seen here in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Alaska SeaLife Center)

A female harbor seal pup that was admitted to the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program on May 4 is seen here in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Alaska SeaLife Center)

SeaLife Center fundraising efforts continue

GCI will spearhead a membership drive and contribute $50,000 to the organization.

The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward received a significant boost in its ongoing fundraising efforts this week, with telecommunications company GCI announcing Tuesday they would be spearheading a membership drive and contributing $50,000 to the organization.

Laul Landes, GCI senior vice president and general manager of consumer services, said in a Tuesday release that company was proud to support Alaska-grown organizations like the Alaska SeaLife Center.

“By leveraging our digital channels and messaging over the airwaves, we hope our support will inspire Alaskans to support an organization that’s been connecting Alaskans to unique educational opportunities for more than 20 years,” he said.

Heather Handyside, vice president of corporate communications, told the Clarion Wednesday that, in addition to the $50,000 contribution, the campaign has a goal of 500 new or renewed memberships by Aug. 3. As an extra incentive to become a member, anyone who joins or renews their membership between now and Aug. 3 will be entered into a drawing to win a free Apple Watch from GCI.

Handyside said that more than 200 people had already signed up or renewed their memberships in the two days since the campaign began.

GCI is also using social media and advertisements across various platforms to encourage people to donate or sign up for membership at the SeaLife Center, Handyside said.

Handyside said she is also a supporter of the SeaLife Center, which she described as a “beloved institution.”

“I’m a huge fan,” Handyside said Wednesday. “Every time I hear of one of the baby animals that they rescue, I’m just so thankful that they’re around to do that kind of work.”

The SeaLife Center’s CEO Tara Reimer told the Clarion earlier this month at the beginning of the fundraising drive that the center hoped to raise $2 million by Sept. 30 in order to avoid permanent shutdown. In the days following their initial announcement, the City of Seward pledged $500,000 to the organization and Reimer reported that membership had hit an all-time high.

“Our facility offers visitors a unique setting to have close encounters with puffins, octopus, harbor seals, Steller sea lions and other marine life while learning about the work our researchers conduct both in the field and in our laboratories,” Reimer said in Tuesday’s press release. “Because of organizations like GCI and generous support from our fellow Alaskans during this difficult time, I’m confident we’ll be able to weather the storm and continue offering these opportunities for years to come.”

For more information on the SeaLife Center, visit alaskasealife.org

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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