NORTH OKANAGAN BANTAM TEAM LENDS A HAND OVER THE HOLIDAYS
There's more to hockey than winning, losing and scoring goals.

Many teams and leagues in sports across Canada emphasize to their players the importance of community involvement and giving back.

This year, the BC Hockey zone teams were encouraged to give back to the communities in which they play. Each team was free to choose their own contribution to the community.

"We had an initiative this year for our zone players in the Thompson/Okanagan region to come up with something they could do to give back in the area where the players and staff live," said BC Hockey Okanagan Zone Lead, Rob Evers. "I couldn't be more proud of the players on the Bantam North Zone Kings for what they planned, accomplished and the positive impact they made on so many lives over the holidays."

The North Okanagan Zone Bantam team decided to raise money for four (4) families, from four (4) communities some of the players call home, to support them during the holidays.

This was a great opportunity for the boys to think about someone else's life and the struggle that many people have to provide the basic needs for the families - food, shelter and clothing.

"We realize we are extremely fortunate to play hockey and have the things we have, so it is important for us to share with those less fortunate," said player Riley Cormier.

Enderby (Gage Parrell), Salmon Arm (Jaxon Hadath, Charlie Kehl, Maddux Martin, Nathan Mayes, Oscar Mayes, Kellan Mooney, Trent Thiessen, Max Backner), Revelstoke (Hunter Fuoco, Ryan Howe, Kurtis Kinoshita) and Vernon (Cormier, Ryder De Nys, Tyson Matthews, Maguire Nicholson, Erik Pastro, Kyle Wheeler) were selected by the team.

The team reached out to local agencies dedicated to helping the less fortunate to help put them in contact with families in need. The team had $500 per family to shop for gifts and food items.

The boys had some great gift ideas for the children and really got into choosing the appropriate items and other Christmas favourites.
"This is a great example of our program being more than hockey and how guiding kids through their journey to be good people is equally important," commented Kings Head Coach, Shawn Lund. "I'm proud of the way our players and parents worked with the communities of Vernon, Enderby, Salmon Arm and Revelstoke to offer assistance and support to families that needed it over the holidays."

Enderby District and Community Service put the team in contact with a mother of three (3) boys (aged 5, 10 and 12) in need. The guys got the kids toys off their wish list, mom received a new microwave and a gift card to help with Christmas dinner.

A mom of two (2) girls (aged 8 and 11) were gifted with clothes, toys, treats and a spa kit thanks to help from the Salmon Arm Safe Society. The ladies also received a gift certificate to help with Christmas dinner.

In Revelstoke, a mom of 10 and 12 year-old boys benefited from the teams' generosity with help from the Ministry of Family and Child Development. The boys were gifted with a new video game console with a couple games and mom received a cozy blanket and a lovely Christmas wreath. They also received all the fixings for Christmas dinner.

A single mom and her three (3) kids were spoiled with $2,000 worth of gifts and food in Vernon.

Giving out Christmas hampers was a wonderful chance for the team to give back to their individual communities and think about those who don't have as much as they do.

"A big part of hockey is not only being a good player but a good person too," added de Nys. "As a team we decided to use some of the money we raised to help give back to the community and help others in need."

Through this community initiative it gave players something to think about during the holidays and hopefully will continue throughout the rest of the year too!

"I am very impressed that these kids stepped up like they did and realize that hockey isn't everything. There are people in our communities that need help and these kids wanted to give back," added Evers.
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