Military News

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Winter clothing exchange program kicks off in September

by Senior Airman Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs

8/27/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- As the days get shorter and colder, children need to start bundling up. For some, their winter jackets, gloves and boots don't quite fit anymore.

Fortunately, the Army Community Service Center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson offers the "Koats for Kids" program to service members and their families. The annual event is an opportunity for the JBER community to receive and exchange winter clothing before the seasonal change.

"This program has been offered to all [service] members and their families for about 11 years now on the installation," said Anthea Acosta, Army Community Service Center relocation readiness program manager. "We receive anywhere from infant to adult winter clothing in our donation boxes, so even single service members can use this program if they need it."

The program collects any winter clothing in good condition from September to October. The Army Community Service Center encourages everyone to go through closets and find unneeded winter items to donate.

"This program is used for the families that really can't afford to buy their children new winter clothing," Acosta said.

Donation boxes are placed throughout the installation including the commissary, Child Development Centers, School Age Programs and at the 673d Medical Group hospital. This allows the parents to donate while they are out shopping at the commissary or dropping off their children at the CDCs.

"Sometimes, we have to pick up the donated items every day because our boxes get so full, so fast," Acosta said. "The boxes at the CDCs are always the most popular donation boxes, because parents are always cleaning out their closets; I will normally get a call from the faculty asking me to come pick up the items."

Once donations are picked up, they are sorted by size and type of clothing for distribution during October.

"We don't mind if people want to exchange for other items while they are donating at the boxes; it is all free and going to a good cause," Acosta said. "I have children, and I know it is hard trying to save money when they need new winter gear."

"Here at the Talkeetna Child Development Center, we have parents [who] donate to the 'Koats for Kids' and we have parents who definitely need it," said Lisa Aguilar, 673d Force Support Squadron education and training technician at the Talkeetna CDC. "If we can help them, why not donate our extra winter gear that we know will not be used and give it someone who can use it?"

Nicole Collins, Ursa Major Parent-Teacher Association vice president, said she is glad this program is on base to help her and those in her community.

"I used the program because it helps all families," Collins said. "Let's face it, kids' winter gear isn't cheap. This program helps those who might need a little support. I see several kids come to school with either no winter gear or little spring jackets every year. This program can help those children."

The Army Community Service Center will be distributing differently this year. Hours will be during both duty and off-duty hours to accommodate working families.

"I will be putting the clothing out on the tables until we run out," Acosta said. "No volunteers will be watching the distribution tables, but we do ask that people only take what they need so another [person] in need can have [the] opportunity to provide for their family as well."

"It is a great program, and I do believe it helps families here on JBER," Collins said. "I myself use the program and will continue to use it as long as they have it."

For more information about the "Koats for Kids" program, contact the Army Community Service Center at 384-1518.

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