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Young Hockey Players Support Shelter for Homeless Vets with Christmas Gifts and Home-Cooked Meal

Hockey team prepares a home-cooked meal and stockings overflowing with gifts for the men at the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans.

Hockey players are not all rough and tumble. When they have the right reason, they'll bake, shop and do arts and crafts. 

Last weekend, local players from junior varsity and varsity combined teams from Bartlett High, Wheaton North, West Chicago, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy took a home-cooked meal, stockings, Christmas ornaments and gift cards to the .

The teams cooked a ham donated by Trader Joe's, and made potatoes, carrots, French bread and a salad with food donated by in Wheaton for the five men at the shelter. For dessert, varsity player Kyle Florian baked homemade chocolate chip cookies, and with a gift card donated by , the team bought assorted truffles.

The veterans also received stockings more than three feet long, overflowing with personal items, such as stationary, gift cards and pens, that team families donated. Some team members made ornaments to decorate the tree at the shelter.

The final surprise for the Midwest Shelter was two-fold: First, the families gave $200 in gift cards which the boys presented to Anita Dierks, the Executive Director of the Shelter. Secondly, a player's family dog, a Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier, arriving en-masse with the team to visit and receive lots of love from the men of the Shelter.

The support of the young men was "overwhelming" for the veterans, Dierks said. There are a few new veterans at the shelter who aren't very familiar with how supportive the community is, she said.

It was a surprise to see such support from the younger generation, she added. "Younger groups are being made aware by parents and they're actually taking initiative to do something," she said.

"It is a credit to the parents to make sure the younger generation knows about charitable giving to people who are less fortunate and about our military service members. I'm as grateful to the players as I am to the parents who are teaching them about that," she said.

The team members who participated included: Jacob Somen, Lawrence Caputo, Nick Wilson, Tony Mastrodomenico, Reese and Drew Stoneburner, Sean Murphy, Luke Lanham, Jeremy Zarth, Alex Kerr, Dina Parducci, Doug Browning, Christian Kumpf, Steve Lucas, Jake Williams and Matt Lena. 

Dierks said, "It was very nice to see a young group of upcoming philanthropists getting involved."

Information courtesy of Melissa Stoneburner

Keith Reily December 17, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Wonderful and heartwarming story. Thank you to all the great team members for being so generous with their time and energy. Their efforts, coupled with the donations of many others, provided a beautiful memory to those who most deserve our gratitude.

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