Is there anyone who doesn't get excited over new shoes, a new sweater or a new toy? Well, imagine what it's like for children in low-income families to receive new, high-quality items. Thanks to cooperation and collaboration, about 6,000 low-income children are receiving new merchandise. Read about it in this week's blog post.

Air Force Medic and Staff Sergeant Cateah Bryant of the 673 Medical Group at JBER helps load boxes of donated children’s goods during the Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) program distribution event Oct. 16 in Anchorage.

Air Force Medic and Staff Sergeant Cateah Bryant of the 673 Medical Group at JBER helps load boxes of donated children’s goods during the Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) program distribution event Oct. 16 in Anchorage.

Children in low-income families are all too familiar with second-hand shoes, clothes and toys. But approximately 6,000 children all over Alaska receive new high quality clothes, shoes and toys every year, thanks to a partnership between the Foundation and Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), with the help and support of volunteers, community and tribal organizations, national and local retailers and shipping companies. These organizations and companies allow Alaska children to benefit from the Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) program.

K.I.D.S., based in New York, distributes items donated from international retailers for re-distribution to needy communities around the world. When we heard about this program, we knew Alaska should get involved. With its big vision for helping people achieve their potential, its focus on kids and its compassionate leadership, CITC was the perfect organization to manage K.I.D.S.

With the Foundation covering the annual fee, CITC administers the program and receives more than $1 million in merchandise to distribute to low-income families. Local organizations and the families pay nothing to participate and receive items at no cost.

Shipments come three or four times a year, often with little notice. CITC works with partners to store and distribute items throughout the state. It’s an intricately coordinated effort that wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of local shipping companies Tote Inc. and Carlile Transportation Systems Inc., which donate approximately $30,000 in shipping costs. O’Neill Properties provides warehouse space at no cost for storage and sorting, saving about $12,000.

All that sorting requires more than 60 volunteers who spend about 250 hours repackaging donations and preparing huge pallets for shipping.

Gael Ortega, 7, of Boys & Girls Clubs Alaska helps load boxes of donated children’s goods during the Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) program distribution event Oct. 16 in Anchorage.

Gael Ortega, 7, of Boys & Girls Clubs Alaska helps load boxes of donated children’s goods during the Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) program distribution event Oct. 16 in Anchorage.

To reach families in Anchorage and across the state, CITC collaborates with nonprofit partners who serve as hub distribution sites for their communities. Organizations can distribute donations to any children in low-income situations, regardless of ethnicity. Some nonprofits have broad service areas that allow them to reach children in dozens of communities; the United Way in Southeast Alaska, for example, facilitates distribution to more than 30 communities, many of them very remote.