BOSTON, MA — Rick Middleton admitted that he never pegged himself as a personal shopper.
But when it comes to giving back to the community — especially during the holiday season — the Bruins alumnus, the organization, and the TD Garden spare no effort in providing a helping hand.
Middleton, along with B's personnel and TD Garden President Amy Latimer were in downtown Boston at The Park Plaza Castle on Tuesday to assist the Salvation Army with its annual Christmas Castle event, which provides clothing and toys for underprivileged families.
"I'm not really a shopper," Middleton said with a laugh. "I just kept my mouth shut, let's just put it that way.
"But I had a comment on a couple of them, I said, 'That looks very good on you, but I'm not working on commission, so you can believe me.'"
But while Middleton may have been a little bit out of his element, he was right at home when it came to giving back, something the hockey community always stresses as very important.
"There's so much need for everything around that you could do this every day of your life, and you would never run out of great causes," Middleton said. "I'm just glad that I had a chance [to help]."
The event is in its 11th year, according to Chris Farrand, the Greater Boston Social Services Coordinator for the Salvation Army.
"It's an event that started out in different iterations," Farrand said. "Basically where it's at now is families pre-register at different locations throughout the city because we like to make it as easy as possible to come and sign up.
"We have them sign up ahead of time to make sure we have the right toys ordered, and the number of coats and food vouchers."
Farrand added the event takes place for three days, and Salvation sees roughly 1,100 families per day during that time period.
And if the thousands in attendance on Tuesday weren't already eager for the opportunity to pick up some new or slightly used winter gear, along with some new toys, having Middleton there to help them make their decisions certainly added some excitement.
"For us, it's a mission to give back," Latimer said. "We want to be good partners in the community — both the Bruins and the Garden — so this is one way to give back.
"They don't have a lot, so these are really important decisions for them, in what their kids are going to get under the tree, so it’s nice to help them figure it out."
"I think we’re a little close to it," Latimer continued, "but to have Rick Middleton help you pick out a coat, and help you pick out your kids toys, and there was a woman that had a Bruins hat on, she had the biggest smile on her face.
"They came here because they knew that were getting some help, but to know that people like Rick and the Bruins alumni that are here are giving back too, it makes it even more special."
And for Middleton, the opportunity to help out the community during the holiday season wasn’t one he was going to pass up.
"This is a really, really good thing they’re doing today, and this is the 11th year they've been doing it," Middleton said. "I got an education today on a little bit of what the Salvation Army does."
Also in attendance was Bruins Assistant Equipment Manager Jim "Beets" Johnson. From helping to pick out anything from winter coats to teddy bears, Johnson got a chance assist a number of families as they sifted through the Salvation Army shelves.
"It's really touching," Johnson said. “You think about your own families, and what we go through, but some of the disasters and what the Salvation Army does, it's just so gratifying.
"It's a good thing, and I'm glad to be a part of it this year and help out through the organization.
"People are less fortunate so you try to give back, and it means a lot, and it feels good if we can give something back," he said.
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