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Members of the Hudson High School football team, a group of Super Fans and various members of each family were named the 2013 Volunteers of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland Feb. 28.
Through a collective effort, the groups raised more than $500 for the clubs in 2013 and collected 250 coats for club members at a Nov. 1 home football game.
And that's just the beginning.
"They raised funds and found sponsors in the Hudson community to put on a Holiday Game Day and came to the Broadway Club in Cleveland during the holiday break," according to Cindy Newton, a Hudson resident and the organization's community engagement coordinator. "The day included inflatables, a photo booth, popcorn machine, crafts and treats. And most important of all, getting to know the kids."
The award was given at a recognition breakfast at the Cleveland headquarters of BGCC. President Ron Soeder recognized the group for the "outstanding partnership they have established with the club in the past two years."
"During the course of planning for this event, the players and fans made requests of Hudson merchants to provide food, craft items and monies, and many of the football team members and their families participated in making a pledge donation, too," Newton added. "During a conversation with Marylee [Maendler, a parent volunteer], we discussed the idea of a clothing drive. From that simple conversation, she took the idea to the team members and they ran with it, coming up with a coat drive on the night of the last home game in November."
More than 250 coats were collected and $550 in donations, with the help of the Hudson Booster Club. Fussy Cleaners of Hudson offered to clean the coats and deliver them to the Broadway Club.
"Our club kids were ecstatic to try on a variety of coats and then get to pick one to take home, and right in time, with the cold Cleveland weather starting," Newton said.
Head Football Coach Ron Wright, who attended the breakfast with assistant coach Brad Maendler, called the recognition "great."
"Our kids in Hudson do a great job of giving back all the time," Wright said.
And it is not just the football team which gives back to the community.
"All the programs and athletes try to give back something to the community," Wright said. "And we want to give back as much as we can."
Wright added the program shows the athletes, fans and families "what some of those kids go through every day," he said, referring to member of the Boys & Girls Clubs.
"I don't think we realize what some of those kids are going through every day of their lives -- including not knowing where their next meal is coming from," Wright said. "We want to continue and keep doing as much as we can to help up there."
The "Coats for the Club" drive was a project sponsored by the football players and the Hudson Super Fans, according to Marylee Maendler, whose son Trent helped spearhead the project.
"It was an amazing event that had an impact on all of the boys that attended and listened to each speaker and award recipient," Maendler said. "The banquet was less about us receiving an award and much more about the impact that the Boys and Girls Clubs have had in changing the statistics of kids who come from tough environments and need the support of people outside their family to survive and succeed as adults -- and that is what the Boys & Girls Clubs is all about."
The Hudson Super Fans are a group of high school students who have friends on the team and support the players at games.
"They really support the football team," Wright said. "It's good to have guys who really want to cheer for the football team. It's really outstanding."
Newton also said the club wanted to thank local merchants who donated items. The merchants included Hershey's of Hudson, Main Street Cupcakes and Jo-Ann's Fabric & Crafts.
However, according to Wright, there is more work to do.
"I'm just so very proud or Marylee and what she's done," Wright said. "And we are going to continue to make it better and up it [donations] more."