Sullivan Honors Alaskan of the Week: Alaina Vik

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) yesterday recognized Alaina Vik, of Eagle River, Alaska, on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Alaina is a thirteen-year-old girl scout who sold more cookies than any other scout in the entire state. Alaina built on her accomplishment by establishing “Operation Sweet Support,” which takes donations and distributes cookies, as well as other items, like pencils and snacks, to troops from Alaska deployed overseas, many in the Middle East. So far she has sent more than 98 care packages to our troops. Her goal is to send 75 more. Senator Sullivan recognized Alaina as part of his series, “Alaskan of the Week.”

Tribute to Alaina Vik:

Mr. President, it is that time of the week--the end of the week in the Senate--when I come to the floor and recognize someone special in the great State of Alaska, someone who is doing something important for their community, for the State, for the country. It is the highlight of my week, and I know it is for our pages.

We have some new pages here. It is commonly recognized as the favorite speech of the week for the pages because they get to hear stories about real people, particularly people in Alaska.

You will hear a lot of these speeches as you are here working hard in the Senate.

We are glad the new pages are here.

As you know, my State is certainly one of the most interesting, imagined States in the whole country. By the way, people watching in the Gallery--my friend Scott Lee is up there--watching on TV, come up to Alaska. You will love it. I guarantee you, it will be the trip of a lifetime. No one comes to Alaska and is disappointed.

I like to talk about Alaska on the Senate floor. People see a lot of what is going on in the State on the nature channels and the adventure channels. There is a story about Alaska on cable TV, it seems like, daily, almost hourly. Not nearly enough of these stories focus on the people who live there--independent, patriotic, generous men, women, and, yes, kids, children, who call Alaska home.

Today, I want to recognize 13-year-old Alaina Vik, who lives in Eagle River, AK. That is a beautiful community, about 15 miles north of Anchorage.

Alaina is a young woman with a big heart. She lives with her mother, Amy, who owns her own real estate company, and her father, Curtis, who is an Alaska State trooper. He is someone I know well because he and I served together with the very outstanding Marine Corps Reserve unit based in Alaska, Echo Company, 4th Recon Battalion. Trooper Vik, semper fi. 

To you and Amy, great job on raising such an exceptional daughter.

Why is she so exceptional? Let's get into what Alaina has done for us. But, first, let me talk a little bit about what is going on in Alaska because I always like to update what is happening in this speech. 

I was home for the whole month of August--actually, almost 5 weeks. I did a week of my own on Marine Corps Reserve duty. It was great to be home. I got to travel all over the State. When I say ``travel all over,'' we are talking hundreds, if not thousands, of miles, literally, between communities. There was a lot going on.

Unfortunately, as it happens in so many summers in Alaska, fires were taking their toll, but the weather was amazing, with beautiful blue skies. For the most part, the sun was out. It was perfect for fishing, hiking, and camping--all the things that so many people in Alaska who come to visit and live here do in the summer.

Now we are heading into the fall. Leaves are starting to turn. It is moose hunting season. The snow isn't far away for most of the State. In some parts of the State, it is actually already on the ground.

Some might say that winter is coming, but I think it is too soon. Winter is coming, but not just yet. I will let you know when that happens.

School has started, and Alaina Vik has entered eighth grade. Her favorite subject is art. Like so many Alaskans, she has been busy. What has she been busy doing? Why are we honoring this young Alaskan who is doing a lot for our State?

First, as a Girl Scout in Troop 690, under the amazing leadership of the troop leader, Mrs. Melissa Jones, Alaina sold more cookies than any other Girl Scout in the entire State of Alaska--more than 5,000 boxes. 

That is amazing; isn't it?

I love Girl Scout cookies. I think they are the best in the country, but 5,000 boxes in one State is pretty darn impressive.

What is her secret? She said: ``My mom told me to go out almost every day to sell cookies, to talk to people and to interest them in buying the cookies.''

Her older brother, Kyle, who, by the way, is an Eagle Scout--you could see what a high-achieving family this is--also helped coach his sister and helped take her out to sell cookies.

Alaina said: ``I'm a really hard worker when it comes to Girl Scout cookies.'' Obviously, she is--5,000 boxes.

Selling cookies just wasn't good enough for her. She wanted to do more for her Girl Scout project. So she took her passion to the next level, using her selling skills to help others and focusing on the men and women in our military, particularly those who are deployed. 

In Alaska, we proudly boast of having the record of more vets per capita than any State in the country. So this is something that a lot of our communities can get behind. She and her fellow Girl Scouts began to send our deployed military members Girl Scout cookies. She got the idea when the father of one of the members of her Girl Scout troop was deployed. Her troop wanted to make sure he felt remembered on his deployment.

All told, in 2017, she was able to donate 800 boxes to our troops, some of whom are deployed in Kuwait and Qatar.

She didn't stop there. As I have often said, we live in one of the most patriotic States in the country. Alaina Vik is just one more bit of proof of that. She wanted to do more for the men and women in uniform. She said: 

They're fighting for us. They're protecting us. They deserved to be appreciated [and remembered] and honored.

This is a 13-year-old girl. Remember, she is also the daughter of a recon marine.

With the help of her mother, Amy, and her father, Curtis, and her two younger brothers, she expanded her effort into what is now called Operation Sweet Support. You could find that on Facebook. In addition to just cookies, she is also sending snacks, pencils, duct tape, and toys. Who doesn't need a toy or duct tape when they are deployed? You can use it for everything.

When the news got out about this project, she started to receive donations from all over the community in Eagle River and all over Alaska. So far this year, through this project, she has sent out over 98 care packages to Alaskan troops who are deployed overseas, particularly in Kosovo and Kuwait. She is aiming to send out 75 more by the end of the year--one 13-year-old girl in the great State of Alaska.

She puts a personalized handwritten note into each of the boxes thanking them. ``This is my way of saying thank you,'' one of her notes reads.

Here is another one:

You are amazing and appreciated and loved. Thank you for your service. That is another note from Alaina to our service men and women deployed overseas.

She gets notes back, of course. One wrote:

Thank you for everything you've done for us. Please keep supporting the troops [and sending cookies]. 

Our military members love cookies. They say it makes a big difference. 

Someone also sent her an American flag that was flown overseas in appreciation of the cookies, as well as a unit coin, a military coin, sent to Alaina by our appreciative troops. ``It was amazing,'' she said, when she got this. 

As someone who has been deployed myself, away from family and friends, I know what it means to get such care packages. It means the world. It means that people back home are remembering what you are doing.

Alaina, thank you for your great work supporting our troops, for the example you are setting for all the young men and women, not just in Alaska but America.

 Amy and Curtis, thanks for raising such a wonderful daughter. Alaina, keep up the great work. Congratulations, once again, on being our Alaskan of the Week.


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