The Okotoks United Church Jacket Racket program is back for another season, continuing the tradition of over 20 years.

Karen Pryznyk from the Okotoks United Church says thanks to the generosity of other residents, people are able to take what they need to stay warm over the winter.

"I think we tend to think of our area as being very affluent, but there are people in need and need to have new winter clothing for their kids. 

"Kids go through winter clothes and adults do too. [Racket Racket] is just a great way to exchange winter clothing and make sure that everybody has what they need for the winter."

Pryznyk says another option for residents is a clothing exchange. They can bring in an item they no longer wear or that doesn't fit and exchange it for something else.

Last year, the program played a role in helping many Foothills residents.

"We had about 137 people come through our doors and we also asked them, ‘how many people are you shopping for?’ ... They took items for up to 221 family and friends.

"So it's bigger than just the people that come through our door. Some of them leave with one or two items and some of them leave with bags full because they have a big family or they know somebody who knows somebody."

She adds that the reach goes beyond the borders of the community. 

"We had somebody who took a bunch of jackets for a teacher in northern Saskatchewan who really needed clothes for their kids. We are open to people redistributing the clothing however they see."

Much-needed items include children's winter clothes as well as water-resistant or waterproof gloves and mittens. Donated items can be new or used. 

"If it's second hand, we just ask that it be gently used and cleaned and make sure that the zippers work and things like that but we will definitely accept second hand. We do get new stuff too and it's beautiful."

Another reason for the clothing swap is to combat the issue of "fast fashion" ending up as waste. 

"We also want to reduce textile waste and that's a thing that people are becoming way more aware of. Clothes are going to waste and ending up in landfills and we don't want that to happen. So we make sure that doesn't happen with anything that comes through us."

Donation bins at the Okotoks Rec Centre, Centennial Arenas, Okotoks Sobeys, the Okotoks Public Library, Foothills Cleaners, Better than Home Laundry, The fire hall on Milligan Drive and the Okotoks United Church are emptied once a week.

Residents are able to check out the Jacket Racket at the Okotoks United Church on Tuesdays evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays from10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

It will run until November 5 and all are invited and welcome.