WOBURN, MA — The Boston Bruins continued an annual tradition today as front office personnel joined staffers for the club's annual Holiday Shopping event.
The Black & Gold descended on Target in Woburn to buy toys and gifts, which later this month will be delivered to hospitals around Boston and given to children who are unable to celebrate the holidays at home.
Asked about the day, in light of the NHL's current work stoppage, Bruins President Cam Neely, who participated in the event during his playing days, noted that it was important for the B's to continue to be active in the greater Boston community that has shown his hockey club so much support.
"Everybody is not happy with the situation that is going on right now," said Neely. "But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still be involved — especially around the holidays."
The holidays can be difficult on children who are confined to hospitals during what is usually a special part of the year, and today's event addressed the need to remember the kids who can't enjoy the season in the traditional way.
"It’s really tough to go in there and see what they’re going through," said Head Coach Claude Julien, wearing a Black & Gold Santa hat. "But what’s amazing is how brave these kids are.
"When you walk in there and you see the smile on their faces and what they’re going through, you just can’t imagine how tough these guys are."
But it certainly wasn't tough to find volunteers from nearly every corner of the TD Garden and NESN to help out with what is always a fun day.
"It’s been around for a long time. It’s fantastic to be involved with this — children not being able to get home for Christmas — and to shed some light on the holidays for them," said Neely.
"I feel like we’re in a position to be able to give back, and it’s really an obligation that you should fulfill," said Neely of people lucky enough to work in professional sports. "We’re fortunate to be able to do what we do for a living.
"Obviously, there’s a lot of hard work and effort put into it, but we’re fortunate to be able to do what we do for a living. Because of what we do, it makes a difference in how people think about their sports or their individual teams.
"For us to get out and get involved in the community in various ways, such as buying toys for kids, it’s something that we should be doing," he said.
The Boston Bruins Foundation, Delaware North Companies and Garden Neighborhood Charities will fund $22,500 worth of toys, with each organization donating $7,500 and anyone who has been part of the delivery to the various facilities can attest to the result of today's event.
"You’ve got the Bruins logo on and they can identify with the athletes, they do light up," said Neely of the children. "If it’s just for a short moment in that day, it makes a difference in what we’re doing.
"That’s the important thing to take away from it."
And that seemed to be the most important item on anyone's shopping list: smiles.
"It certainly makes you feel good," said Julien. "The reason we’re doing this -- to put smiles on some of those kids’ faces…is going to be a special day for me.
"When you have kids, you know what that’s all about, and to be able to do this helps to certainly put you in the Christmas spirit, but also to explain what Christmas is all about.
"It’s about spreading joy and happiness, and we’ve got an opportunity to do that."
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