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Operation Warm takes the chill out of winter

December 12, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Members of the Rotary Club of Austintown recently joined forces with the Salvation Army to help students stay warm this winter. The annual Operation Warm program saw new coats distributed on Dec. 1 to children ranging in size from three to adult XXL.

According to Rotarian Gary Reel, the program is in its fifth year serving underprivileged children across Mahoning County. The Salvation Army starts the program by screening requests for new coats.

"The Salvation Army accepts the names and verifies their income, need, etc.," Reel said. "We work through the Salvation Army. The coats are ordered according to size they give on the request."

Article Photos

Austintown Rotarians Jake Hignett, Rich Begalla, David Hough, Gary Reel and Sandie Reel help out with sorting new winter coats that were distributed on Dec. 1 to help keep children warm this winter.

The program covers all of Mahoning County as long as the people applied through the Salvation Army. The Rotarians assist to keep the program running smooth.

"Volunteers help so that there is an order to what could be chaos," Reel said. "The joy is great each time you help a child and let them pick the color and size they want. Many of the kids are quite shy, especially the Hispanics."

He said the Salvation Army has a great presence among Hispanic population in Youngstown. In fact, Reel said they have a separate service and officers, most coming from Campbell and the South Side.

While the coat program is over, Austintown Rotarians are looking forward to the next big program, which is the annual toy giveaway.

"The same method is used for toy giveaway, and also includes a food voucher for Christmas on Dec. 18-20.," he said. "Some of Austintown's Rotarians will be helping then too."

In addition to those two programs, Rotary and the Fitch Interact Club sponsored by Rotary will be at the Austintown WalMart on Dec. 15 to ring the Red Kettle bell.

"We've been doing this for a number of years," Reel said.



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