FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Moving to Alaska can be expensive for families who need to outfit adults and multiple children with adequate winter gear. On September 20, the Armed Services YMCA helped alleviate some of the cost burden by providing free winter clothing for 250 school-aged children on Fort Wainwright through the ASYMCA Bargain Shop.
“We do this every single year,” said Amanda Curry, ASYMCA Bargain Shop manager, and business was brisk—Curry noted that 30 people were helped in the first 45 minutes of the event.
Each adult shopper was allowed to take a complete set of clothing for all their children between the ages of 5 and 18. This included a jacket, snow pants, boots, a hat, and a pair of gloves or mittens.
The shop sells such items year-round, along with a wide variety of other clothing, household goods, books, sport equipment, and other items. However, for the giveaway event, all the winter gear was free of charge and gathered in one location, and the rest of the shop was closed for the afternoon.
According to Jordan Burnett, program coordinator for the ASYMCA, Delta Airlines sponsored the event and provided free snacks and toiletry items for families to take home.
All clothing and boots given out at the event were items members of the community had donated within the last few months. Some of the items were brand-new, with or without tags, and some had been previously worn but were in excellent condition, Burnett said.
Families who could not find certain items in one or more of their children’s sizes were able to leave their names and information with the staff.
Burnett said the event was held in multiple locations in Alaska on or near military installations and that afterwards, “ASYMCA statewide will pool items from the events around the state and share them with other locations. We will contact families about the missing items.”
That did not appear to be a significant issue at the Fort Wainwright event, however. Curry stated that they had “a good amount of stuff left. We had almost overstocked.”
Families who signed up in advance but were unable to attend the event on the 20th were able to visit the shop on the 21st or 22nd to pick up their items.
Curry said she received positive feedback from the families who attended.
“They were really grateful, very appreciative. They saved a lot of money.”