Kids In Distressed Situations program provides toys and more just in time for the holidays
If you’re ever in Chevak or Alakanuk, don’t be surprised if you see dozens of kids playing with the bright yellow, pill-shaped toys known as “Minions” from the Despicable Me movies. Thanks to the Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) program and its partners, children from both communities recently received Minion-themed toys, helmets, and knee pads as part of an effort to ensure that high-quality clothing and toys are distributed to children in need.
Chevak and Alakanuk are the most recent communities to partner with Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), Alaska’s only distributor for the national Delivering Good (formerly K.I.D.S.) program. Through Delivering Good/K.I.D.S., national retailers and manufacturers like Gymboree, Toys “R” Us, and Osh KoshB’gosh donate new toys, clothes, and other items, which are distributed to partner communities and organizations four to five times each year. As a partner, CITC then redistributes those items to communities in need. The toys are also distributed to families through our annual Christmas Basket program.
CITC also partners with local airlines, including Grant Aviation and Alaska Airlines, and businesses like Carlile Transportation Systems, Inc., to make sure the toys get to far-flung Alaskan communities that can’t be reached by the road system.
This year, longtime partner Grant Aviation alerted the organization to an opportunity to serve Chevak and Alakanuk.
“We contacted both villages because Grant Aviation called us and said, hey, if you need help shipping things to communities in our region, these are the two that need the most help, and we can do it for you,” explained CITC Development and Event Coordinator Whitney Kellie.
Working in collaboration with the Tribal councils of both communities, CITC arranged to have several pallets of donated toys and goods flown first to Bethel with the help of Northern Air Cargo. From there, Grant Aviation took over, getting the pallets to both Alakanuk and Chevak.
The Minions toys were donated through another new partner, GEAR the World, a nonprofit organization that works on the same model as Delivering Goods/K.I.D.S.
“I know what it’s like to be from a region where there’s limited resources and access,” said Whitney, whose family hails from Wainwright. “You rely a lot on people how are willing to help out. In a lot of these smaller communities, working together and offering as you can is part of our traditional values, and that’s the same across a lot of Alaska Native cultures. To see that happen with our partners like Grant Aviation and Alaska Airlines, that means a lot to me, and I’m sure it means a lot to the people who receive clothes and toys.”
CITC’s K.I.D.S. distribution is complete for 2017, and we’ve already hosted our annual Christmas Basket and Holiday Celebration — but the need we see in our community is year-round. If you have extra this holiday season, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to support CITC programs.