SPECIAL REPORT: Facets of family violence
What you need to know about COVID-19 today
Daily forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Continuing coverage: Mass shooting in Nova Scotia
Business Tool Kit 2021
IN DEPTH: Covering a contentious lobster fishery
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
Glace Bay minor hockey players may not have trouble finding the back of the net this season, but their biggest goal of the year will be felt in the community later this month.
This weekend, players from 14 teams within the Glace Bay Minor Hockey Association will make a monetary donation to the Christmas Crew program, which provides hundreds of grocery orders for families during the holidays.
Each team will donate money from their team accounts in order to help the Glace Bay-based initiative provide food for Christmas Day and up to six days after to those in need.
Among the clubs participating this year is the under-15 ‘A’ team.
“A mother from the under-15 ‘AA' team, Jami Murphy, brought it to our team and asked if we’d be interested,” said team manager Jennifer Reid. “Once our players and parents agreed, I reached out to other teams and they also jumped on board after discussing it with their clubs.”
Last year, the Christmas Crew program provided grocery orders to more than 300 local families from the Glace Bay area as well as Sydney River and Whitney Pier.
Reid believes having the teams involved in the program is important to help players understand the importance of community, especially during the holiday season.
“These are families who have children who go to school with our kids,” said Reid, noting the decision to donate was made by the individual teams and was not an edict from the association.
“The players may not realize it and they may not know them, but they’re helping their peers who are less fortunate than them.”
Miners player Ben Peach said his teammates with the under-15 club knew they wanted to do something this Christmas and immediately jumped at the opportunity.
“It makes us all feel really good about what we’re doing,” said the 14-year-old Peach. “It’s nice to be able to give back to our community and bring some happiness at Christmas — it’s important to support each other.”
Reid admits seeing the players wanting to help their community in a time of need is heartwarming, especially this year with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID-19, some people have not worked and it’s not necessarily just for children,” said Reid. “They know it’s for everyone in need, as parents, it makes us all very proud of all the kids.”
Because of the pandemic, there was a time earlier this year when the future of the 2020 Christmas Crew program was uncertain.
With the annual dinner and auction fundraiser cancelled due to COVID-19, organizer John White decided to take the fundraising efforts virtual through a GoFundMe campaign launched on Nov. 3.
“The players may not realize it and they may not know them, but they’re helping their peers who are less fortunate than them.” — Team manager Jennifer Reid
As of press time, the campaign has raised $8,940 for the initiative. Because of the fundraiser and donations by various other individuals and groups, 300 families will benefit from the program this year.
“COVID-19 proved to me that this program is very much a community event,” said White. “When I gave up and thought we wouldn’t have it this year, the community stepped in to help even more than they’ve already done in the past.”
White said seeing children and teenagers wanting to support the program, like the Glace Bay teams, is an encouraging sign for the future of the initiative.
“I’m not a spring chicken, I’m 53 years old, and somebody has to take this thing over eventually,” he said.
“I see the compassion and helping others is alive and well in Cape Breton. We might be down in a lot of things and we’re hurting in many ways, but in the meantime, our sense of connection, community and helping others is alive and well.”
The Christmas Crew program isn’t the only initiative the under-15 ‘A’ team has done this year. The team also hosted an event known as the 12 Days of Christmas Giving for the Glace Bay Food Bank.
Each player on the team was responsible for getting 12 items from a list provided by the food bank. The list included paper towels, face cloths and hand towels, body wash, shaving cream, peanut butter and juice boxes to name some.
All 17 bags collected were donated to the food bank on Thursday for distribution at a later date.
As for the Christmas Crew, the overall amount received from the Glace Bay teams won’t be publicly announced until after it’s made official on Saturday.
Jeremy Fraser is the sports reporter for the Cape Breton Post. He's been with the publication for four years. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @CBPost_Jeremy