Christmas came early to the Glory Hole.
The Alaskan Brewing Co. selected the homeless shelter as its annual end-of-year donation winner. Then they threw in a twist. The brewery decided the full donation couldn't wait that long in light of the shelter's recent financial setbacks. On Wednesday evening, the brewery dipped into its tip jar collections and handed over $9,000.
Ashley Johnston, communications manager for Alaskan Brewing Co., explained that every year around December the entire crew decides on a nonprofit organization to receive all of the proceeds from the tasting bar's tip jar throughout the following year. These tips are designated for the annual nonprofit only; the employees take none.
The Glory Hole was selected for the 2010 donations, which are generally given at the end of the year.
"We voted the Glory Hole because they're doing great things. They're a local nonprofit that provides invaluable services and you can see their good work on the street and we're happy to be sharing this donation with them this year," said Johnston.
However, the brewery employees decided this case couldn't wait until the usual unveiling. Johnston said after reading reports that donations are down from last year, the company felt the Glory Hole could use the help a little ahead of schedule.
"We saw donations were down 30 percent, so why hold out till the end of the year," she said.
Glory Hole Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk agreed the money is needed now and expressed substantial appreciation to the brewery for it.
"This is so great that this is coming now because most of our donations usually do come in before Christmas and Thanksgiving so we just kind of spend whole year thinking 'Will we have enough or not?'," she said. "So this is a lot less nerve-racking for us."
When Lovishchuk learned the shelter was not only the annual recipient, but was getting it early, she said she was overjoyed because it emphasized the acknowledgment of a homeless shelter's needs.
"I really appreciate what a wonderful community Juneau is and this helps show the Glory Hole is part of that community," she said.
She said getting the money from a regular business rather than a charity is "such an honor and privilege to have these folks thinking of us."
She was taken by the donation's size, as she had expected much less and said it was "incredible" to get this amount.
"It's a lot more than I thought. I guess one of the nice things is now we definitely don't have to worry about keeping the place warm for winter and keeping three meals a day," she said.
Another possible use of the money is planning a more organized day program to allow the clientele to go out into the community to work, though that project remains in the planning stages, Lovishchuk said.
The early donation was a gift for more than the Glory Hole. These nonprofit donations have been a highlight to longtime employee Tony Hand. Hand has held a number of positions with the company since 1988 and has garnered a reputation as one of its most familiar faces. He said this is his last week on the job and was glad the annual nonprofit donation was a part of it.
Hand said he was glad that his final participation in these donations, which Alaskan Brewing has been doing for about 10 years, is for the Glory Hole because he believes those that use the shelter are in special need of any help as soon as it becomes available.
"They have kind of a shortfalling this time of the year and this is kind of their lax period," Hand said. "By us giving a check tonight they'll be able to make it through to the holidays."
Hand said many of the nonprofits that have benefited from the donations need it because their government funds are earmarked for certain expenses only, and those organizations must pick up the bill for others.
"What's cool is nonprofits get government funds but those funds can't be used for everything they need and there's always a need," he said.
"It's always kind of fun to see what they do with the money."
Wednesday was the start of the annual prize, not the end. Johnston said the company will continue collecting tips as usual and give the rest to the Glory Hole at the end of the year.
Contact Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.