For many families, the month of December is full of celebration and being close to those that you love, as Christmas and New Year’s festivities fill homes and bring people together. Yet for many people across America, the traditional gifts and trinkets are sadly hard to come by: however, the St. Louis Jr. Blues of the NA3HL, in combination with a local charity, are helping to make this Christmas one to remember for a group of families in the St. Louis area.
This year, the Jr. Blues have teamed up with St. Patrick Center, an organization that annually assists thousands of people throughout St. Louis in finding homes for those without them, providing job training and mental health support, and other programs designed to end homelessness in the area. Each year, they provide Christmas gifts to hundreds of families who earlier in the year have been moved into permanent housing, as a way to make the first Christmas in their new home that much more special.
“We all of us are incredibly lucky to be where we are–supported by family, playing hockey, and enjoying our lives–but sadly there are many people around us who don’t have the opportunities that we do”, said Jr. Blues assistant coach Greg Anderson, who suggested and organized the event. “My family and I have worked with St. Patrick Center multiple times in the past, and I believe that they’re a great organization who do a lot of good works for disadvantaged people in the area.”
The entire Jr. Blues organization–from players to coaches and support staff–took part in adopting a number of families this year. The players were tasked with purchasing toys or other gifts for younger people in the families, while members of the staff each chipped in with gift cards to local supermarkets or big-box stores for adult members of the households.
While due to scheduling conflicts the Jr. Blues players could not personally deliver the gifts to their families, Jr. Blues head coach Chris Flaugher still hopes that their actions resonate. “We want this to remind our players that there’s a bigger world around them that they’re a part of, and that being a good hockey player isn’t as important as being a good human being.”