After last week, 132 Boardman children will be a lot warmer this winter. It was a record number that the Boardman Lions Club helped this year in their annual New Coats for Kids program.
According to Boardman Lions Cluib member Judy Jones, the club had as many applications this year as it received in the past three years of the program combined.
"We were able to give 126 new coats to 57 families (in the past three years)," Jones said. "(This year) we had more applications than the last three years combined. We were not able to give every applicant a coat."
Lions Ron Paris, Joni Blase, John Landers and Terry Shears tidy up the welcome sign on Glenwood Avenue as part of the fall clean up and planting the Lions Club has been finished.
She said the families who got coats this year were based on need. It started with the families filing an electronic application online or picking one up at the library or at the elementary and middle schools in Boardman. It began on July 5 and deadlined on Sept. 12.
Once the application deadline was reached, a panel of judges led by Lion Laura Sobotka sat down and went through the applications, rating them according to the greatest need. The funds that the club had raised for the program would not cover all the applications. The panel could only cover 62 families who were experiencing financial difficulties and qualified to attend the night at Target to select their new coats.
"We gave as many new coats as we could," Jones said. "As a Lion, I am very happy that we can provide as many coats as we did. It makes you feel very good. Target also provided a snack after the children picked out their coat. We asked the families to complete a survey about their experience and the most used word on the surveys was how nice everyone was."
On Oct. 2, the families showed up at Target and the children got to select their new winter coats. The children were using words like cool or it is so warm inside. The families were very surprised when they learned they could pick out any coat they wanted.
"One of the mothers said she felt like it was Christmas for herself, even though it was just for the kids," Jones said.
While the program is over for this year, the work is just beginning for the fifth annual Coats for Kids program. Jones said most of the money for the program comes from donations and the club has already starting fundraising now for next year. Anyone who would like to donate to the program can visit the Boardman Lions' website, www.boardmanlions.com.
"This year we have added honorariums and memorials because we know that people are always looking for meaningful ways to honor others," Jones said.
After providing the warm coats, the Lions turned to its annual road clean up and beautification project by cleaning trash from the U.S. 224 "Welcome to Boardman sign," planting daffodils at three sites, and landscaping the newest sign at Glenwood and Western Reserve Roads.
The most recent landscaping, using roses and boxwood, is at the welcome sign just north of Western Reserve Road on the east side of Glenwood Avenue. This was planned and landscaped by Lions Mandy Ward, Lee Ward, Laura Sobotka, and Terry Shears.
Another crew, consisting of Lions Ron Paris, John Landers, Jaclyn Rausch, Judy Jones, and Terry Shears removed months of rubble from in front of the new welcome sign on U.S. 224 across from the entrance to Mill Creek Golf Course. The same crew cleaned the Market Street corridor from Western Reserve to 224 of debris, the fourth time it has done a cleanup there this year. The club also planted 200 daffodils at the three sites.