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Give thanks, or just give, this month

Coast Guard, Samaritan's Purse begin accepting Christmas donations this month

Posted: November 8, 2013 - 12:05am

The holiday season is almost upon us, and organizations are gearing up their donation drives to give to those in need.

One such effort is the Coast Guard Association’s Coat and Blanket Drive, which gifts donated items to children and families in Southeast Alaska communities.

Each year, after the items are collected in Juneau, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter crew delivers them to Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Pelican and Elfin Cove. Santa Claus is known to make an appearance.

“We know there’s a need for the items and want to help,” said Lt. Ryan Erickson, a spokesman for the Juneau Officers Association. “We’ve already started getting calls about the when and where. With the residents of Juneau working together we’re sure we can make a difference for those who need these items.”

Erickson said the organization will begin accepting donations Nov. 11. Gently-used coats and blankets can be dropped off at tote bins, donated by Taku Fisheries, at the following locations: Walmart, Safeway, IGA Foodland, Fred Meyer, Super Bear Supermarket, Nugget Mall, Juneau Family Health and Birth Center and the Juneau Federal Building.

Donations will be accepted at all locations through Nov. 25, he said.

Erickson said the drive began years ago with the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty. The event is now sponsored by the Coast Guard Officers Association, Chief Petty Officers Association and Coast Guard Enlisted Association in Southeast Alaska.

Alaska Laundry and Dry Cleaners also donates its time and equipment to clean all the donated items, and Les Schwab Tire Center provides heavy-duty tire bags to keep the donated items dry during delivery.

The national relief organization Samaritan’s Purse is also preparing for Operation Christmas Child, which provides children all over the world with shoeboxes full of gifts, toys, school supplies, toiletries and notes of encouragement.

Tripp Hurst, a spokesman for the group, said the collection site in Juneau — Chapel by the Lake — will be open for donations the week of Nov. 18 through Nov. 25. Local volunteers will be on hand to help sort through the items, Hurst wrote in an email.

Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 100 million shoebox gifts to disadvantaged children in more than 100 countries since 1993, according to their website.

For more information, visit samaritanspurse.org.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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