The 12 Days of Christmas

In 2019, the Flyers Alumni Association launched a new program for the holiday season: over the period of 12 (or more!) days, the Alumni pledged to donate money and/or time to various Delaware Valley charities, or directly to families or individuals in need. The ongoing plan is for the 12 Days of Christmas Season Giving program to become an annual tradition.

Stay tuned for daily updates throughout our 2020 edition of the 12 Days of Christmas Giving.

In 2019, the Flyers Alumni Association launched a new program designed to become an annual tradition during the holiday season: the 12 days of Christmas giving. Each day for (at least) 12 days, the Alumni association donates money, vital supplies or volunteer time to charities, educational organizations or to individuals or families in need.

This year, there are several new facets to the 12 Days program.

First, there is wider involvement among the Flyers Alumni Association membership base in identifying worthy charities and people in need. Among the Alumni who brought donation candidates to the attention of Association president Brad Marsh and the board of directors were the likes of Kerry Huffman, Orest Kindrachuk, Shjon Podein, Garry Peters, Joe Watson (via wife Jamie) and Alumni board member Bob Kelly.

The number one priority, of course, is to identify the recipients to whom the Alumni Association can bring the most-needed assistance. Secondarily, this is a way to bring the generations of Flyers Alumni closer together with the Association to unite for good causes.

For example, Peters, who played for the inaugural Flyers team in 1967-68, lives in Saskatchewan, while Podein, who played for the Flyers in the mid-1990s, lives in Minnesota. Peters suggested the Flyers Alumni consider helping out the Saskatoon chapter of KidSport, for whom he’s been a fundraiser for 30-plus years. Podein suggested the Alumni help out Community Food Response; the food bank in his native Rochester, Minn. Both charities were selected by Marsh and the Alumni Association board among this year’s recipients.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused alarming levels of food assistance needs in communities across the United States. The Flyers Alumni Association put a little extra emphasis this year on prioritizing 12 Days recipients who meet this need in their communities. Apart from CFR in Rochester, the Flyers Alumni is once again assisting the Toyota Food Drive on behalf of Philabundance. Additionally, the Alumni selected at Huffman’s suggestion, the Bucks County Housing Group, which provides food pantry assistance in addition to aiding people dealing with crises related to looming homelessness or social service needs.

The primary focus of the Flyers Alumni Association to benefit the Delaware Valley community. As such, the majority of 12 Days of Christmas Giving recipients are based in the greater Philadelphia area. Each day, last year, the Flyers Alumni Association launched a new program designed to become an annual tradition during the holiday season: the 12 days of Christmas giving. Each day for (at least) 12 days, the Alumni association donates money, vital supplies or volunteer time to charities, educational organizations or to individuals or families in need.

The number one priority, of course, is to identify the recipients to whom the Alumni Association can bring the most-needed assistance. Secondarily, this is a way to bring the generations of Flyers Alumni closer together with the Association to unite for good causes.

For example, Peters, who played for the inaugural Flyers team in 1967-68, lives in Saskatchewan, while Podein, who played for the Flyers in the mid-1990s, lives in Minnesota. Peters suggested the Flyers Alumni consider helping out the Saskatoon chapter of KidSport, for whom he’s been a fundraiser for 30-plus years. Podein suggested the Alumni help out Community Food Response; the food bank in his native Rochester, Minn. Both charities were selected by Marsh and the Alumni Association board among this year’s recipients.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused alarming levels of food assistance needs in communities across the United States. The Flyers Alumni Association put a little extra emphasis this year on prioritizing 12 Days recipients who meet this need in their communities. Apart from CFR in Rochester, the Flyers Alumni is once again assisting the Toyota Food Drive on behalf of Philabundance. Additionally, the Alumni selected at Huffman’s suggestion, the Bucks County Housing Group, which provides food pantry assistance in addition to aiding people dealing with crises related to looming homelessness or social service needs.

The primary focus of the Flyers Alumni Association remains to benefit the Delaware Valley community. As such, the majority of 12 Days of Christmas Giving recipients are based in the greater Philadelphia area. Each day, across all Flyers Alumni content platforms, we will highlight one recipient from the 2020 edition of the 12 Days of Christmas Giving program.

Day 1      Salvation Army Toy Donation

On Dec. 10, 2020, the Flyers Alumni officially kicked off the 2020 edition of the 12 Days of Christmas Giving. With unanimous approval from the Alumni board, Marsh purchased $1,600 worth of brand new toys and donated them to the Salvation Army in order to distribute to the children of families in need this holiday season. The donation was made in support of the Philadelphia Flyers Warriors holiday toy drive program in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

The toys were purchased from ExtraordinaryEd in Collingswood, NJ. Marsh chose ExtraordinaryEd because, with so many small businesses hurting during the pandemic, he wanted the Alumni to help support a small, independently owned local business in his own community. Especially because ExtraordinaryEd specializes in educationally focused toys, games and puzzles designed to help promote supplementary cognitive development in children, Marsh felt that a Salvation Army donation of products purchased through that store would be beneficial on many different fronts.

Day 2      Busansky Elementary School Toy Drive

 

Bob “the Hound” Kelly’s wife, Stacey, was a longtime 2nd grade teacher at the Samuel Busansky Elementary School in Pemberton, NJ. Stacey, who is now retired, and Bob have both been actively involved over the years in the school’s annual toy drive to buy holiday presents for the students.

On Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, the Kelly family presented a $1,500 check to the school on behalf of the Flyers Alumni Association. The money will be used to support the holiday toy drive.

“We’ve been involved with the toy drive for, I think, 14 years. In the early years, we bought and donated some presents ourselves. But we;ve moved onward and upward since then, because we can offer more help this way. Many of the students are from lower-income families, and they are appreciative of the Christmas presents. This can be a rough time of year for kids from lower-income families, and this year has been very challenging for a lot of families,” Bob Kelly explained.

Day 3      Maryville Addiction Treatment Center

With more than 70 years of experience in the comprehensive treatment of addictive diseases and related disorders, Maryville Treatment Center has brought hope and healing to people suffering from addiction to alcohol, opioids and other substances. Their treatment models are based on evidence-based treatments for long-term recovery.

Flyers Alumni Association president Brad Marsh presented a $1,500 check to Maryville’s Chief Development Officer, Bill Crowe. The money will be used toward supporting Maryville’s Alumni Services Program.

“Maryville’s Alumni Services program is open to all individuals who have completed any level of treatment at Maryville. The program offers a variety of ongoing supports including socialization and recreation opportunities in a healthy environment, skills workshops, guest speakers, and mentoring opportunities. Alumni programs aid in achieving long-term sobriety based on healthy supports and social connections,” Crowe said.

Added Marsh, “Basically, this donation is about alumni helping alumni; in this case, the Flyers Alumni helping support the Maryville program alumni. Sadly, all corners of society have been affected by the horrors of addiction. The hockey community is no different, and addiction issues are something that hit home for many NHL alumni. Even if you and the members of your immediately family have never struggled with addiction issues, there is a strong possibility that you personally know someone who has, either directly or within their family. We hope that our 12 Days donation to Maryville can assist people who have been through their program along their paths to achieving long-term sobriety.”

Day 4      Yellow Ribbon Fund

Based out of Bethesda, Maryland, Yellow Ribbon Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)3 veteran service organization providing immediate housing, transportation and caregiver support to wounded, ill and injured post-9/11 service members.The fund was established in February 2005 to offer needed services to injured service members as they returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yellow Ribbon Fund was one of the first veteran service organizations to recognize the importance of keeping the family together during the critical recuperation phase. Through the creation of their two key programs — Crossroads and Keystone — Yellow Ribbon Fund has helped make an impact on veterans and their families living not just within the United States but around the world. Yellow Ribbon Fund serves close to 2,000 individuals annually and has chapters throughout the country.

Joe Watson’s wife, Jamie Comiskey, has been actively involved for many years in working with Yellow Ribbon Fund to make its service mission a success. The Flyers Alumni Association donated $2,000 to YRF as part of the 12 Days of Christmas Season Giving program.

“The Flyers Alumni are always very supportive of the veteran community, especially those who have made unimaginable sacrifices to serve our country.  We greatly appreciate this donation and the attention we can bring to meeting the needs of our service people and their families,” Comiskey said.

Pictured above, with his service dog is one of the injured veterans whom YFW has assisted: Pete Way, an Army veteran who was seriously wounded in Afghanistan in 2003.  To learn more about his story, click here.

Day 5      KidSport Saskatoon

When Brad Marsh asked Flyers Alumni members for suggestions of worthy charities for the 12 Days of Christmas giving, original Flyers forward Garry Peters (1967-68 to 1970-71 seasons) proposed that the Alumni donate to an organization that’s near and dear to the Saskatchewan native’s heart: the local chapter of KidSport in Saskatoon.  KidSport is a is nationwide a grassroots non-profit organization in Canada. The organization provides support and access to a variety of different sports to underprivileged children and youth 18 years of age and under across the country. KidSport is designed to remove the financial barriers that prevent these children from playing organized sports and attaining the physical, social and emotional benefits of participation.

“I was a fundraiser for KidSport for decades, but health problems have slowed me down,” the 79-year-old Peters said. “I used to hold a golf tournament that brought out a lot of big-name NHL players. I am very touched and honored that the Alumni chose KidSport as one of the charities to donate to this year.”

Explained Marsh, “Normally, we try to donate within the greater Philadelphia area but we decided to do things a little differently this year. We have Alumni who live all across North America both in the U.S. and in Canada — actually, many who live overseas, too — and we wanted to do something to benefit some of the communities of our Alumni who aren’t living locally to Philadelphia. Garry has had a long-time involvement with KidSport in Saskatchewan, and this was a chance to show our support. Secondly, we wanted to get Alumni from different generations of Flyers history involved in our 12 Days program, whether they played for the Flyers in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 2000s. Garry’s suggestion checked all the boxes.”

The Flyers Alumni have donated $1,500 to KidSport for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas season giving program. In Saskatchewan, KidSport is operated by Sask Sport:  a volunteer-driven, non-profit organization that serves as the provincial federation for amateur sport. n Saskatchewan, Sask Sport Inc. is licensed by KidSport Canada to deliver KidSport programs. Sask Sport does this through its charitable arm, Give Kids a Chance Charity Inc. (GKACCI).

Day 6      Boys and Girls Club of Camden County

Founded in Hartford in 1860 and first federated in 1906, the Boys and Girls Clubs across the United States provide a wide array of services and programs to at-risk youths from under-served communities in order to maximize their opportunities to realize their potential when they become adults. The programs have a five-fold focus: 1) bridging the workforce readiness gap; ending the cycles of inequity; neutralizes safety threats in a safe and nurturing setting; providing mentorship; and listen to and amplifying marginalized voices in society.

The Boys and Girls Clubs in the Delaware Valley are a traditional charity that the Flyers Alumni have supported in past programs. Last year, during the inaugural 12 Days of Christmas Giving program, the Flyers Alumni teamed up with Simon’s Heart to donate an automated external defibrillator (AED) to the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia.

This year, Flyers Alum winger and Alumni Association board member Todd Fedoruk suggested that we provide direct financial support to the Boys and Girls Club of Camden County, This week, “Fridge” and Brad Marsh presented a $2,000 check to the Camden County branch of the Boys and Girls Club.

Day 7      williams Family Fund

As with last year, one of the days of the Flyers Alumni’s 12 Days program is devoted to providing direct assistance to a local family in need. At the suggestion of Orest Kindrachuck, the Alumni chose this year to make a $3,000 donation to the Williams Family Fund; a fund set up to assist a New Jersey family in need.

Williams family matriarch Ana, passed away recently at age 55 after a long battle with lung cancer. Family patriach Tim, a pastor, was laid off from his church in 2017 and has been struggling to make ends meet. The family has eight children, four grown and four who still live at home.

The Alumni’s donation to the Williams Family Fund was made by Kindrachuk and Bob Kelly, with two members of the Medford Lakes Police Department on hand. Special thanks go out to Lt. John McGinnis for helping the Alumni select the Williams family. The money will be used toward Christmas presents for the children, mortgage, utilities, groceries and medical bills. If you can make a donation of your own, in any amount, click here.

For more of the back story on Ana’s battle with cancer and the ways the community has rallied around the Williams family, click here.

Day 8      St. Francis Inn & Toyota Food Drive (Philabundance)

Prior to the official start date of the Flyers Alumni Association’s 12 Days of Christmas Season Giving, the Flyers Alumni made a pair of donations to local community-based organizations to whom we traditionally devote a day of volunteer service during the holidays but were unable to physically assist this year due to COVID-related concerns.

Right before Thanksgiving, we held our annual food delivery event to drop off turkeys with all the fixings to St. Francis Inn in Kensington. However, for the first time in 14 years, we were not able to volunteer in the kitchen to help serve the food to the homeless. In lieu of the volunteer day, the Alumni made a $3,300 donation to St. Francis Inn.

Likewise, last year, both the Flyers Alumni and the Philadelphia Flyers Warriors team directly volunteered to deliver a parcel of food for Philabundance as part of the annual Toyota Food Drive to combat hunger. This year, the Alumni made a $1,000 donation to the Food Drive.

Day 9      SAY IT WITH CLAY

Located in Collingswood, New Jersey, “Say It With Clay” is a non-profit organization that helps both children and adults with a diverse array of special needs. The purpose of its program is to foster pride, success and motivation through the therapeutic use of clay. There is an emphasis on inclusiveness, peer-to-peer encouragement and freedom of expression in a supportive environment. The use of clay provides not only hands-on learning and therapy but a powerful alternative channel for communication; a key component of healing and well-being.

Say It With Clay assists both developmentally and economically disadvantaged individuals. Its therapeutic programs target the specific needs (e.g., grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s and dementia, cancer and other emotionally debilitating conditions) of both individuals and their families. The organization, which is part of the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, was founded by Abbie Kasoff, who has more than 25 years of experience working with the special needs community, school districts, human services organizations, and healthcare providers to meet the needs of those it serves.

“Bob Kellly suggested we include Say It With Clay, because they do amazing work with people with special needs,” said Brad Marsh, whose wife is a teacher. “They’ve helped instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in their participants. It impacts lives in much the same way that special needs hockey programs do, except its done through the use of clay. rather than sports. As with everyone, the wider the array of open avenues for special needs kids and grownups to discover what interests them and will benefit them. the better.”

As part of the Flyers Alumni’s 12 Days of Christmas Season Giving Program, Kelly and Marsh presented a check for $1,500 to Say It With Clay.

Day 10      Bucks COunty Housing Group

On Dec. 20, 2020, Kerry Huffman presented a $1,500 check on behalf of the Flyers Alumni Association to the Bucks County Housing Group. Pictured in the photo with Huffer are Madeleine “Maddie” Burgess, who works at the charity, and Tim Edbrooke, who introduced Kerry to the work BCHG does to assist those in need in Bucks County.

“My son and I have helped out on some local food drives here in Bucks County,” Huffman said. “Bucks County Housing Group operates a community food pantry and also does a really great job especially pertaining to young single mothers and families who need assistance. With everything going on this year with the pandemic, the need for donations and volunteers has never been greater.”

Bucks County Housing Group (BCHG) is a 501(c)(3) organization that works to advance the interests of people with low to moderate-low income and people in crisis through assistance with affordable housing and related social services. BCHG has also partnered with Philabundance to incorporate healthy food and education in its community food pantry.

Day 11   Pt. 1   Community Food Response (Rochester, MN)

At the suggestion of Flyers Alumni left winger Shjon Podein, the Flyers Alumni have donated $1,500 to Community Food Response in his hometown of Rochester, Minnesota. CFR is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization that serves adults and families with children in need, many of whom do not qualify for other forms of food assistance.

Clients can receive food after registering with CFR and obtaining a CISS identification card issued by CFR and other county agencies. Clients must sign up for this card at their first visit and bring this card each time they visit. No one is turned away, however, and clients don’t have to provide financial or employment information to qualify for this program or receive free meals to take home or eat elsewhere. During the pandemic, CFR is distributing pre-filled bags outside of their building at Bethel Lutheran Church in order to maintain social distance.

The food CFR distributes is donated by local restaurants, cafeterias, businesses and grocery stores. In addition to helping people in need, CFR helps reduce the amount of food waste generated by area businesses.

“Like so many communities around the U.S., my hometown of Rochester has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. With so many people hurting financially and a hunger crisis developing as people try to both keep a roof over their families’ heads and food on the table, our local food banks need help in keeping up with the need. I suggested to the Flyers Alumni that we assist Community Food Response in Rochester as part of the 12 Days of Christmas, and the Alumni came through with a generous donation. But the need is ongoing, and I know CFR would greatly appreciate the support of hockey fans everywhere. Also, on behalf of my family and me, I wish everyone reading this a safe, peaceful and happy holiday season and new year,” Podein said.
  • Day 11   Pt.2   Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP)

    Founded in 2004, the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP) advocates for child victims of abuse, neglect, and trafficking in the courts and social services agencies of Montgomery County, PA. The organization trains volunteer professional  attorneys to represent children in all of the relevant legal arenas in Montgomery County, and processes all of their background checks and clearances. MCAP then assigns them to cases referred to us by the District Attorney, the courts, the Public Defender, Mission Kids (forensic interviewer), or law enforcement.

    The roughly 125 volunteer attorneys, known as MCAPs,  do all of the following (and more) free services for their child clients:

    • meeting with them
    • investigating their cases
    • attending court dates with them
    • explaining the process to them (as age appropriate)
    • presenting findings
    • representing their interests
    • making sure their voices are heard (in cases of pre-verbal infants/toddlers, we make sure that their “best interests” are represented)

    Advocacy and education are critical components of MCAP’s mission. Through our work building partnerships and coalitions and delivering programs in our community, we are helping to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of child abuse, and educating lawyers, law enforcement, parents, youth-serving professionals, and the general public on child abuse laws and resources available for families. Current programs:

    • Teaching dental professionals the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect in partnership with the Pennsylvania Dental Association
    • Civics classes with middle school students to teach them about our rights and responsibilities
    • Speaking engagements at schools and community organizations

    The Flyers Alumni Association has donated $1,500 to MCAP as part of the 12 Days of Christmas Season Giving program,

    “From what I found out, largely due to collateral damage of people dealing the stresses related to the COVID pandemic, the numbers of child abuse and neglected cases have nearly doubled in 2020. MCAP need more volunteer attorneys to handle the case load, and as much funding as possible to help offset the cost to train each new attorney to represent these cases. The cost of training one attorney is roughly $1,200. So we donated enough to cover the cost of training one attorney with a little extra left over. Clearly, though, the organization needs more support to continue doing the vital work they do for no compensation,” Brad Marsh said.

     

    Day 12   A Special Gift for Lucy (Help Hope Live)

    Working together with Help Hope Live, the Flyers Alumni were able to present a special gift to a very special little girl; five-year-old Lucy Brooks of Springfield, PA. We surprised 5-year-old Lucy, who has cerebral palsy, with a customized bicycle that she will be able to ride. The Watson brothers and Brad Marsh made the delivery of the $5,000 bike.

    Help Hope Live, based in Radnor, PA, connected Marsh with Lucy’s family; all of whom are big Flyers fans. The Flyers Alumni Association president then ordered the special bicycle and hoped that Santa’s workshop would have it ready for delivery by Christmas. As it turned out, the timing worked out perfectly.

    “Every child deserves a bike of his or her own, and Lucy was so excited when we gave her the present,” Marsh said. “She kept saying, ‘Faster! Faster!’ and she figured things out quickly. Everyone in her family are big Flyers fans, too. It was really neat how everything worked out in the nick of time. Legitimately, we weren’t sure if it we could get it in time for Christmas. Santa and his elves came through just in time, I suppose.”

    Help Hope Live will continue to work with Lucy’s family to ensure all her uninsured medical and related needs are met through community-based fundraising. View her Campaign Page and please consider making a donation on Lucy’s behalf.

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    2019 “12 Days” Donation Recipients

Teammates of the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni Organization

Philadelphia Highway Patrol Officer Andy Chan suffered devastating injuries while on duty riding his police motorcycle. Andy is in a rehabilitation center and is totally incapacitated. This leaves his wife and 3 young children without an active father and his income