The co-administrators of a program that provides warm winter clothing for children in need were honored Tuesday.
The Carlisle Kiwanis Club presented Carol Lorence and Sharon Fahnestock with the third annual Service to Youth award in honor of their work as the volunteer driving force behind Warm the Children.
Warm the Children is a national program that is promoted locally by the Carlisle Kiwanis Club and The Sentinel. The Sentinel seeks monetary donations for the program through donated advertising space.
The award comes at a time when the program is preparing for a transition since both Lorence and Fahnestock plan to step down this year.
“I’ve met so many people, wonderful people. I’m going to miss it a lot,” Fahnestock said.
“It has been so fulfilling. It is bittersweet leaving the program at this time,” Lorence said. “It will thrive with all of the new folks.”
The families assisted by the program are referred by service agencies and school counselors across the county, Lorence said.
Once identified, the families are matched with one of the program’s approximately 100 volunteers who take the families to Kmart and Walmart to shop for about $80 worth of winter clothing and footwear.
“Some of these kids never shop for clothes. They’re always just given hand me downs,” Lorence said.
The volunteer shoppers meet with the families and sometimes spend an hour or more choosing clothing to make sure it’s appropriate and within their budgets.
“The volunteer shoppers are really the ones who should be getting an award,” Lorence said.
Last year, 832 children were referred to Warm the Children. Lorence said the program ended up clothing 724 children due to problems with contacting and scheduling some families.
The program always kicks off around Oct. 1 and tries to wrap up by Christmas, Lorence said. That leads to one of the biggest challenges for the program as they work to find volunteers to go shopping with the families during the holiday season.
Donations from the public are key to the program’s success, and there has never been a year where the funding came up short and children had to be turned away.
“Every year, we just pray that we have enough money. So far, we always have,” Fahnestock said.
“We have checks coming from anywhere from $5 to $12,000. We’re very fortunate that we are able to help that number of children,” Lorence said.
No donation funds are used for administration; the Carlisle Kiwanis Club funds all administrative costs.