By Patricia Pifer, West Dundee Leafs Hockey Club
With the season having come to an end, we now have some time to recall the moments that have defined our PeeWee players. We are, in fact, raising young men, not just hockey players; giving them opportunities to belong to something outside of themselves. I write this with a smile on my face and much warmth in my heart.
Just before the holidays were upon us, a few team parents sat down to discuss what community service projects the team would be interested in. There are so many to choose from, whether it be volunteering at the food bank, Try hockey for Free events, mentoring youth hockey players, veteran’s services, the list was endless. We wanted to focus on our community, kids just like ours that maybe were going through some tough times or situations.
On Saturday, December 3rd a team family held their 3rd annual Toys for Tots Annual Christmas Party. Our entire team and many other club families were invited for a night of fun and fellowship. The only requirement was to bring a new, unwrapped toy or two. The players and their families had a great night spending time with one another outside of the rink. The event brought in 5 big boxes of toy donations filled with over 100 new toys that went to the Kane County area children, just in time for Christmas.
On Saturday, January 28th we had another community involvement event. This time we partnered up with a local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. We invited 15 “little brothers and sisters” ages from 7 to 13 years old, along with their “big” brother or sister to watch our home game, followed up by a pizza dinner at the rink and open skating. I must say that when we began planning this, we weren’t quite sure how it would turn out to be. Everyone involved still smiles when thoughts of that night come up. It was wonderful beyond words! The night was planned to accomplish teaching our boys how to touch the lives of others in their community and to a positive part of something bigger than themselves, bigger than their team. The interactions between everyone came together so beautifully. Our boys passing out team pins, sitting together eating pizza and playing table games, tying skates, answering questions about hockey, chatting about common interests and skating with their “bigs” and “littles”. No one wanted that evening to end! We were able to collect donations to cover the costs of the evening and to nearly $1500 in corporate donations was given to their organization. We have had “bigs” and “littles” come to our team hockey games since then. We have had some of them write letters of thanks for the fantastic night.
We are not raising just hockey players, we are raising kind, grateful, self-confident, respectful, awesome young men.
Special thanks to Mindy and John Wessel, hosts of the Toys for Tots Holiday party and to Linda Leigh for organizing the Big Brothers Big Sisters Event.
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