WOBURN, MA — From the looks of the faces of the various Boston Bruins personnel perusing the isles of Target, one would have thought the staffers were happily shopping for themselves.
But upon inspecting their shopping carts, filled to the brim with Barbie dolls, board games, and other children’s favorites, it was obvious the shopping was being done for some special people.
In fact, Bruins coaches and other staff members had traveled to Woburn to participate in the Bruins Holiday Toy Shopping event presented by AT&T — an annual event, which results in gift donations to local hospitals throughout greater Boston.
“This is one that we’re definitely keeping on our charts because it’s for the kids,” said Bob Sweeney, Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation, while looking over his shopping list. "And if we can brighten up a kid’s day while he’s in the hospital during the holiday season, we’re happy to do that, and that’s what this is all about.”
This year, $22,500 was pledged to fund the toy shopping, consisting of $7,500 each from The Boston Bruins Foundation, Delaware North Companies and Garden Neighborhood Charities.
Hospitals receiving donations this year are Boston Children's Hospital, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Shriners Hospital for Children, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Hallmark Health System Hospitals, Franciscan Hospital for Children, and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.
And while the focus may have been on the kids, whom, as Sweeney said, will hopefully all be smiling when they receive their holiday deliveries, there were plenty of grins among shoppers as they snaked through the aisles of Target grabbing goodies off the shelves.
Maybe it was the holiday spirit that lifted the mood. Or maybe it was simply the reminiscing being done while coming across an old favorite toy.
“Today we’re doing some shopping for the kids,” said Don Del Negro, the Bruins athletic trainer. “We’ve got the three to eleven-year-old bracket, so we’ve got some Play-Doh stuff for the boys and girls. Everyone loves Play-Doh, so you have to get Play-Doh.
“I’ve got a 14-year-old daughter, so it’s fun to go back and buy this stuff that we bought a few years ago for her. We know what the kids like, so it’s easy.
“The kids are what it’s all about,” continued the long time B's althetic trainer. “Doing this, it really makes you feel good.
"And to make a little smile on their face this time of year is awesome.”
Each shopper was given a list, which was assigned to a specific hospital, and contained certain items that had been requested by the children. A budget was also provided, but beyond that, the shopper had free-range on which toys to purchase.
“They’re all important. Making sure you complete the list, that’s the most important,” said Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney. “It’s so very important to make sure that you do things for the community.
“You’re a part of this community, you’re a fabric of it, and you want to make sure you immerse yourself in it.”
When shoppers finished, they wheeled their carts over to the checkout where a Target cashier processed the selections. Then the items were then sorted into bins for each specific hospital and will be distributed later this month.
“It’s a fun time of year right now,” said B’s Assistant Coach Doug Houda of the holiday season. “Obviously, any time we can help out or give back it’s great for us, and it’s great for our family as well to be involved as much as we can.”
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