Coast Guard crew gathering coats, blankets, new toys

A Christmas wrapped fish tote at the Federal Building is one of three collection sites for this year's US Coast Guard Blanket, Coat and Toy Drive.

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Anacapa is now accepting donated items to be distributed to villages throughout the Panhandle for its annual Southeast Alaska Blanket, Coat and New Toy Drive.

Bins last week were placed outside Safeway, Super Bear Supermarket, Fred Meyer, Costco, Wal-Mart, Alaskan & Proud Co. and the Juneau Federal Building. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 1.

“The Coast Guard is a small family, and we can always depend on our shipmates to lend a hand when we need a little help,” said Coast Guard District 17 Public Affairs Specialist Veronica Colbath. “This project gives us the opportunity to share the same type of camaraderie with our communities and gives us a chance to say thank you for supporting us.”

Normally, the crew of the Cutter Liberty hosts the drive, then tows the gifts to villages in Southeast Alaska, but since Liberty is in dry docks in Ketchikan for six months, the 18-member crew of the Petersburg-based Anacapa is taking the helm.

They plan to distribute the items in the second and third week of December to Hoonah, Pelican, Elfin cove, Tenakee, Angoon and Kake.

Command Chief for Sector Juneau Senior Chief John McGowan, one of the founding members of the drive, says this has been an Alaska Coast Guard tradition since 1993. McGowan reminds people that donated clothing items must be in good condition or gently-used, and that all toys must be in original packaging.

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