- Red Wings and Tigers players enjoy brightening holidays for local youth
Continuing a special tradition of delivering joy to families in metro Detroit, the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Meijer teamed up for the annual Hometown Holiday Assist on Friday, Dec. 8, by treating 50 kids from The Children’s Center (TCC) for a shopping spree at a Meijer store in northwest Detroit.
The event drew several Red Wings players — Ben Chiarot, Christian Fischer, Shayne Gostisbehere, Alex Lyon, Olli Maatta, Jeff Petry, Michael Rasmussen, Moritz Seider, Daniel Sprong and Jake Walman — and assistant coach Jay Varady. Tigers pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long and radio play-by-play voice Dan Dickerson, in addition to Bally Sports Detroit’s Craig Monroe and Dan Petry, were also in attendance.
“(Hometown Holiday Assist) is an incredible event,” said Ryan Gustafson, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment (IS+E). “It’s great to see a lot of our players here. We sincerely thank them for coming out and our great partners at Meijer for hosting us. Giving back to the community around the holidays is incredibly important to our organization, so it’s fun to be here and see the smiles on the kids’ faces.”
Volunteers and colleagues from the Red Wings and IS+E kicked off the night by forming a high-five tunnel and welcoming the kids into Meijer. Each child was then paired with an athlete, media personality or volunteer to shop for wish-list items like toys, stuffed animals and video games.
TCC is a Detroit-based non-profit organization that provides specialized clinical and employment services to local youth. And for Varady, helping the TCC children enjoy Friday’s shopping spree was gratifying.
“It’s great to get out in the community and be part of this,” Varady said. “Especially with (TCC) being so close to the rink, it feels like we’re giving back right next to where we’re working.”
Walman said the coolest gift he helped pick was a PlayStation 4 controller.
“When we get the opportunity, it’s something that I look forward to doing,” Walman said. “Treating kids to fun always makes me proud. It would be a waste if we didn’t do stuff like this. I think it’s a good opportunity to make some kids happy and make their day.”
Concluding with a Little Caesars pizza party and holiday-themed activities and games, the 10th annual Hometown Holiday Assist was a big success, according to IS+E Director of Community Impact Kevin Brown.
“It’s incredible to see how far this event has come since its beginning 10 years ago with our partner Meijer,” Brown said. “Being able to support thousands of kids over that amount of time is so special to our organization. And to know we’re able to bring together both the Red Wings and Tigers during this time of year to share in the spirit of the holidays, while giving back to those in need, that’s what is important.”
Hometown Holiday Assist, an annual program supporting Detroit families and local non-profits during the holiday season, is one of several community events that Red Wings and Tigers players participate in each year.
Original story written by Jonathan Mills and published on DetroitRedWings.com