Hudson -- The playoff-bound Hudson Explorers football team is used to covering punts, kickoffs and post-pattern running wide receivers.
This year, the team is expanding its coverage to the Northeast Ohio winter that will soon be blitzing boys and girls throughout the Cleveland area.
Members of the team are asking everyone who attends the final regular season home game Nov. 1 to bring a new or gently used winter coat, which will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland during the second annual Holiday Games Day.
The "Coats for the Club" drive is a project being sponsored by the football players and the Hudson Super Fans, said Marylee Maendler, whose son Trent is helping spearhead the project.
Last year, about 40 volunteers, which included football players, family members and friends, spent the day with members of the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland Broadway Club, playing games and serving a variety of snacks and treats. The team will be visiting the club again Jan. 2, during winter break.
"This is our second annual event, and this year we asked super fans to help out as they are an important part of the spirit of our student fans and they could create a lot of energy around collecting coats with the students," Maendler said.
Trent, a linebacker and special teams player, along with fellow junior Reid Robinson, a wide receiver, were part of a Holiday Games Day event last December.
"The Boys and Girls event is one of the highlights of my year," Trent, 17, said. "It was incredible to give back in such a way where you could see you were truly making a difference at last year's event."
During last year's event, the team was made aware that coats were needed, Trent said.
"This year we were asked to collect coats for these kids attending the Boys and Girls Club event, which consists of kids aged 6 to 17," Trent added. "With there being such a high attendance at home football games, we figured it would be a great idea to have a collection of coats at the last regular season home game."
The event is important to Reid "because our time and efforts go a long way with making the kids happy," he said.
The day consists of constant activities along with playing games and entertaining the kids, described Reid, 16.
"They are so appreciative of everything we do and at the end of the day it's hard to say goodbye, and the impact we had on these children's daily activities and the gratitude they expressed make it all worth it," he said.
More than 120 Boys and Girls Club members attended last year's event, Maendler said.
"Most of these kids live at or below the poverty level and they walk to the club every day," Maendler said. "The clubs are a safe place to hang out, do homework and get a meal, many get their the last meal of their day."
Maendler hopes "to fill a giant truck with coats to deliver at that event."
"Last year we raised over $2,000 which allowed us to rent a gym full of obstacle course inflatables and bounce houses, a photo booth and a popcorn machine," Maendler said. "Through the generous donations by Jo Ann Fabrics, we had 150 blanket kits and craft items that allowed us to help every kid make his/her own blanket to take home. We got about 200 cupcakes donated by Main Street Cupcakes to hand out after the event and 100 percent of the donations of cash and goods went toward our event that day and the money left over went to the Boys and Girls Club."
This year Trent invited the players and super fans to get together to discuss the need, Maendler said.
"They came up with a lot of great ideas -- one of which was to ask the Hudson businesses for their help," Maendler said.
Earlier this month two players and three super fans approached local businesses for help.
"They came back with several gift cards, coupons for free items around town and even a stack of brand new coats that can go straight to the club," Maendler said. "In order to make this a huge success -- they suggested a raffle ticket be given for each coat that is brought to the football game on Nov. 1. The tickets will be drawn during the game and posted so that fans can pick up their prizes."
Coats can be dropped off during the game at the front gate or at the front desk at Acme Fresh Market of Hudson, which has set up a "COATS 4 THE CLUB" drop-off site through Nov. 3. Coats can also be dropped off at Fussy Cleaners, 51 South Main St., through Nov. 3. The cleaners has also offered to dry clean all donated coats used and will pick up bags labeled "coats 4 the club" at homes where customers are already signed up for pickup/ drop off service.
The team is asking that coats be gently used or new winter coats, in good condition, with no broken zippers, buttons or holes for kids ages 6 to adult, Maendler said.
"The Cleveland area Boys and Girls Clubs serve about 8,000 kids in their community," Maendler said. "So there is no such thing as too many winter coat donations."