Garrett Dominick doesn't seem much like a grouch.
Though Garrett won the title of 2003 Nikiski Grouch on Saturday in the Cook Inlet Lions Club's annual fund-raising contest, he's anything but the grizzled and grumpy adult one might expect.
In fact, the smiling 6-year-old looks more like an angelic cherub.
Garrett is the son of Lions Club members Richard and Heidi Dominick of Nikiski, who have been involved in the Grouch contest since its inception in 1995. Until this year, Heidi was chair of the fund-raiser, in which Nikiski residents "vote" for their favorite grouch with 25-cent donations. Though she handed over her post this year, Heidi still helped out with the contest, making donation cans for candidates in her living room.
Garrett, who has been involved with the club through his parents, decided he wanted a can.
"I thought he'd just play with it, but he started campaigning," said Richard. "He really wanted to be the grouch."
While most candidates left their donation cans at area businesses, Garrett carried his around with him, selling lollipops in exchange for votes and enlisting the help of family members to bump up his donation total.
It worked. Garrett raised about $220 more than any other candidate and was honored with a crown and scepter at the Family Fun in the Midnight Sun festival in Nikiski on Saturday. He then went around showing off his prizes to the crowd, Heidi said.
Rep. Mike Chenault placed second in the contest, and Cathy Williams placed third. Chenault and Williams were only 8 cents apart in their donation totals.
Contestants raised a total of about $1,000 in the contest.
Garrett, who will enter the second grade at Sears Elementary School in the fall, said he entered the contest for fun (not because he's really a grouch), but he also knows the importance of the fund-raiser.
All of the money raised by the Lions goes to the club's service projects, which include paying for eyeglasses and eye surgery to those who can't afford it. Richard added that a project in the works involves setting up an eyeglasses recycling center in Alaska. He said the Lions are working with the superintendent of Wildwood Correctional Center to set up a program in which inmates would sort, sanitize and check prescriptions on used eyeglasses that later would be sent to people in other countries.
Richard said he was initially reluctant to have Garrett in the contest but changed his mind after realizing the significance of his son's early dedication to community service.
"Why not teach your children community service at a young age?" Richard said. "He's a good boy. I'm just glad he's out doing good things like this.
"I think if we're not willing to push our children toward good things, there is always a drug dealer on the corner pushing things we won't be so proud of."
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