Kenai refinery employees support Operation Children First

Community News

Kenai, Alaska, Foundation
Brown and his family hosted a fundraiser for Operation Children First at the local junior hockey game.
  • Operation Children First is getting a head start on its fundraising efforts this year, thanks to a grant from Marathon Petroleum’s Kenai refinery in Alaska.
  • Employees selected the nonprofit organization to receive proceeds from its charity auction.
  • Operation Children First provides clothes, food and gifts to underprivileged children in the Kenai Peninsula.

Employees from Marathon Petroleum's Kenai, Alaska, refinery selected a nonprofit organization to receive the proceeds from its employee charity auction. Employees bid on premium parking spots, flag-flying privileges, and items from the facility that were replaced or no longer in use. The 2023 event raised over $21,000, and it was presented to Operation Children First, a local nonprofit helping underprivileged children in the Kenai Peninsula.

“That money is literally half of what we have raised in an entire year,” said Matt Brown with Operation Children First. “We can buy a lot of socks, coats, bikes, and food for people in need with that generous donation.”

“There is growing support from so many who care and want to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Brown, an Operations Excellence Specialist at the Kenai refinery, started Operation Children First seven years ago to provide children in the community with Christmas gifts. He wanted to build on the lessons his father taught him about being grateful for what he has and giving to others.

Santa at an oeprations children first gift giveaway
Brown with his family and Santa at an Operation Children First gift giveaway.
Operation Children First hosted a snow mobile event for families to enjoy the snow.

“That first year, we helped 30 people for Christmas,” said Brown. “Last year, we provided food, clothes or Christmas gifts to almost 2,000 children.”

Operation Children First has been an official nonprofit organization for four years. Community support and increased donations have helped the organization expand into a year-round operation.

“I am in touch with the school nurses to find out what items they need to give to students,” said Brown. “We have set up clothing stores in the schools supplied with new clothes for students. From new socks to coats, we try to help how we can. We do not want students worrying about having clothes to wear to school when they should be able to focus on their education.”

The refinery employees were excited they could help make a difference through this local nonprofit.

“We are a close community here in Kenai,” said Bruce Jackman, General Manager of the Kenai refinery. “I’m proud of our employees for wanting to support Operation Children First. Community investments and volunteerism help make our communities thrive.”

Brown and his family volunteer to shop and distribute items to people in the community. Brown sees his children learn the values passed down from his father and that it is better to give than to receive.

“My son told me he can’t wait for the holidays, so we can give out turkeys and presents,” said Brown. “There is growing support from so many who care and want to make a difference in the lives of others. If I can make these kids feel like they aren’t alone, my job is done.”

Brown’s three children help him shop for gifts.
Matt Brown, founder of Operation Children First, at a holiday event.