AK DOC Today

News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections

Spring Creek’s Hobby Shop Lily Pads

There once was a boy named Nick. Nick had a kind heart and a smile for everyone. Since the tender age of 4, Nick also had leukemia. At 17, Nick lost his life to a brain tumor. But that is not how Nick will be remembered.

One day at the hospital, as the story goes, Nick saw a child struggling with an IV stand and a beautiful idea was born in his head: the Lily Pad. He pictured this child choosing her favorite, hand-painted Lily Pad, climbing aboard, and floating along as her stand was gently propelled by unseen hands. Nick died before he could complete this project in his high school’s shop class, but his classmates stepped up and helped realize his dream.

This story of the Lily Pad spread, eventually reaching the sister of Alan Burton, an inmate craftsman at Spring Creek’s Hobby Shop. With funding for materials donated by the prisoners’ Bonsai Club, five woodworkers and painters teamed up to create Lily Pads for three Alaskan Hospitals: Fairbanks Memorial, Alaska Regional, and Central Peninsula. Over the years the hobby shop members have made countless and very generous contributions to charitable causes, but nothing has motivated them more than reaching out to children. Painter David Forster chose a character from “Frozen,” a movie he has yet to see. “I painted a little flower in the snow, behind Olaf. The little flower–I believe–filled him with joy.” Haley Anthes, the manager of pediatrics at Fairbanks Memorial, wrote to Mr. Burton: “Your desire to donate these has already brought joy to the nurses who work here. I can only imagine what the children will feel when they see them.” And we can all imagine that Nick is still smiling.