As students and parents prepare for the start of the new school year, a new coat is a definite must -- especially in Alaska. Thanks to a non-profit and the generosity of the community, struggling families are getting the coats they need to keep their kids warm this winter.

The Salvation Army's annual Coats for Kids drive kicks off Monday. From now, until Sept. 8, the non-profit is accepting new and gently used coats that will be donated.

On average, more than 1,000 coats are donated to Coats for Kids each year.

"We're looking forward to meeting the needs of the community," Peter Pemberton with the Salvation Army said. "If I'm being honest, I hope that there's not as big of a need as a thousand, but I know there probably will be, so I'm excited to partner and just make sure that we meet every need that's out there. We don't want to leave any child without a coat."

Fireweed Cleaning makes sure the coats are clean and ready for the children before distribution.

"The sheer volume that we get from the community is kind of astonishing," JT Hampton with Fireweed Cleaners said. "Even though it creates a little bit of work, it's like this is good work, so it just means that I am able to give back to the community."

Organizers say they have a higher demand for adult sized jackets for teens than ever before.

New or gently used winter coats can be dropped off at the following locations:

  • 6th Ave Outfitters
  • Fred Meyer (2 locations)
  • Alaska USA (4 locations)
  • Bass Pro Shop
  • Alaska Club (3 locations)
  • Able Body Shop (2 locations)
  • Atwood Bldg.
  • VFW Post 9785
  • Body Renew (3 locations)
  • ACF Church
  • Fireweed Dry Cleaning (2 locations)
  • Kriner’s Burgers & Pies
  • American Legion Post #1
  • Denali Federal Credit Union (5 locations)
  • The Crossing
  • Total Truck Accessory Center
  • Eagle River Automotive
  • ANTHC

Money donations can be made at the Salvation Army website or on its Facebook page.

A community distribution is planned for Sept. 23 at the Salvation Army Anchorage Community Corps, located at 1701 C Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.