Care package brings cheer from Laramie to Alaska

(Photo taken from Pixabay) Some red gifts sit in a line.

Gifts of toys, candy and necessities are bound to a tiny town in Alaska thanks to the generosity of UW students and citizens of Laramie and Cheyenne.

Jay O’Brien, a former editor of the Branding Iron, and his wife, Heather, will soon be shipping their third annual care package to Brevig Mission, a far-flung village, 65 miles further north than Nome.

Brevig Mission has a population of about 300 people. The town is predominantly home to Iñupiat Eskimos and is named for Reverend Tollef L. Brevig, a pioneer missionary from Norway who traveled by dog team to perform services for remote villages.

The O’Brien’s daughter, Elise Audevart, has taught there at a school of 150 children since her graduation from UW in 2015, and has worked hard to improve the lives of her students even beyond her role as a teacher.

The annual packages from here in Laramie make a big difference, and the O’Briens are keen to have it shipped by Friday, December 8 to make sure it arrives in time.

“Some of these children will likely get nothing for Christmas outside of this care package and are food insecure,” O’Brien said. “We are looking for stockings, candy canes, other assorted candy, anything else to give to the students.”

This year, the package will need a lot more postage. It has drawn the attention of the community in a way the previous two haven’t after O’Brien decided to make a Facebook post just to see if there was any interest.

“We’re completely blown away by the generosity, we’ve had so many people give,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got so much that we have a present for every kid in that school, and we also have additional books and things.”

Time is short to get this year’s package shipped for the Great White North, but those interested can always donate to the school by contacting Elise Audevart at or (907) 643-0291.

“Folks have been so generous,” O’Brien said. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to give them kudos.”

Contributions include not only toys and candy but also practical goods such as socks and toothbrushes from Black Dog Animal Rescue; Wyoming Governor’s Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities; Dr. Merrill Bassett of Granite Springs Dentistry; Program Director Jennifer Amos and Owner Kim Elfring of Cheyenne Habilitation and Therapeutic Center; Wyoming Guardianship Program employees Heather Raimondo-O’Brien, Jodee Palmer, Dalton Lopez, Jennifer Elliott, Kayla Lyday, Nancy Creech, Winter McGee, Doris Loeske, Nicole Neider, Emily Smith and their families; and Karen Hart of Cheyenne. Amos, Elfring, Palmer, Smith, Raimondo-O’Brien, Jamie Winchell, of First Interstate Bank, Chris and Mike Audevart of Rock Springs, Ron Relbach of Cheyenne, and Portia McCreery of Cheyenne donated money to cover the shipping costs.



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