The Woolwich Wild Atom B rep girls’ team made a rather unorthodox decision this year regarding the their Secret Santa exchange.
When the 9- and 10-year-old players were faced with the option to either buy each other gifts or use their allowances to give back to the community, the vote to donate their money to the food bank was a unanimous ‘yes’ among the 13 girls.
“We live in a small community. It is really important for them to realize that any little thing that you do makes a huge impact, and they went for it,” said Dee Brun Gow, a parent on the team who suggested the idea.
“What can you buy for $15 that would really matter to somebody, when $15 is a week’s groceries to others?”
Brun Gow originally approached the team manager with a proposition: If she could convince the girls to each donate their $15 and in turn make a handmade gift (coupons to carry hockey bags, homemade hot chocolate kits), she would organize a food drive.
“So we did a blind vote and it was unanimous. It was amazing. There is hope because a lot of the kids right now, it’s a what-is-in-it-for-me-generation. We have to fix that,” she said.
With that set, they planned to visit the Food Basics in Elmira ahead of practice the following Thursday evening and Brun Gow said she couldn’t have expected more from the girls – not only were they picking out food to donate, but they were price checking to make sure that they had the lowest possible price to stretch their money as far as possible.
“They were working together as a team, but in a totally different way at Food Basics, which was kind of cool. You had to go off and hunt for your food. I just thought the dynamics for your team was neat that night – no one was a right winger, nobody was a centerman, nobody was a goalie, they were all just kids with the same goal in mind,” she said, speaking with her daughter Gracie about the experience.
All of the food was left in the box at Food Basics with the store even donating $25 to the cause.
“There were 13 girls and all of them came, which was awesome,” she said. “We just broke them off into like two or three girls and said, ‘this is your mission. ’ It was just one of those things that was kind of infectious for the people shopping in Food Basics also, because the girls all had their jerseys on and Santa hats.
By doing so it gave the girls a hands-on experience, learning about the cost of food and seeing the value of the donation, which filled the boxes to be totally overflowing by the time they were finished.
In addition to donating to the food bank, making sure that it was done so locally was another rewarding experience for the group, with their offerings going to the food hamper program at Woolwich Community Services, added Brun Gow.
“So that’s the whole point, to keep it local. Not that it’s not great to donate everywhere else, but this is where we live, this is our community, this is where they play hockey and do all of their stuff.”
The donation really brought the girls together, and Brun Gow hopes that they can make it into an association-wide Christmas tradition.
“I think it is going to be bigger next year,” she said. “Do it Wild-wide and try and get all of the girls into it because imagine the power of that. We just literally take over Food Basics – it would be really fun. I just think that we could really do something cool. Toy mountains and toys and things are great – I love that – but there is just something about the connectivity of food – it really brings people together.
“I think this is only the beginning.”