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. 2023 marks the fifth year of the program. Last year, we made $37,700 worth of donations of money and goods to the community for the holiday seas.
Here’s an event-by-event look at what we’ve doing this year.
Before the launch: Several weeks prior to the “official” start of the 12 Days of Giving for the 2023 holiday season, the Flyers Alumni hosted disabled military veteran Paul Magargal as our special guest in the Alumni’s suite at the Wells Fargo Center. Paul met with Flyers Alumni Brad Marsh, Bob Kelly, Joe Watson, Orest Kindrachuk. Bob Clarke, Bill Barber and Paul Holmgren as well as members of the Flyers Warriors hockey program and watched the Flyers take on the Anaheim Ducks. Paul, a lifelong Flyers fan, attended the Flyers’ first Stanley Cup championship victory back in 1974.
DAY 1: ST FRANCIS INN
We have made a tradition of annually starting our drive to give back to the less fortunate in our community during the holiday season by personally making a food donation delivery to St, Francis Inn in Kensington. This tradition predates the 12 Days of Christmas program and has become our yearly kick-off donation. The 2023 holiday season is the 17th that we started off with a donation to St. Francis Inn.
On Nov. 17, 2023, we delivered turkeys with all the traditional fixings, hams and daily food staples to St. Francis Inn. As always, we were warmly greeted by Father Michael and other familiar faces whom we look forward to seeing.
Keep in mind, however, that the work of St. Francis Inn is not tied to a calendar date or a certain holiday. Every day and every year, St. Francis Inn does incredible work in serving the needs of the local homeless community.
Learn more here: https://stfrancisinn.org
DAY 2: The Neighborhood Center (Camden, NJ)
During our 2019 edition of the 12 Days of Christmas, we had the opportunity to see firsthand the tremendous work that the Neighborhood Center does with young people in the community to provide a safe and nurturing environment while also providing an array of vital multi-generational services to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty. The Neighborhood Center provides a wide array of educational, artistic, and recreational programs, community service opportunities and much more.
On Dec. 9, 2023, Flyers Alumni Association president Brad Marsh visited the Neighborhood Center to present a $2,000 donation for Day 2 of our 2023 Twelve Days program.
Learn more here: http://neighborhoodrising.org
DAY 3: Veterans Multi-Service Center
Giving back to the people who give so much to keep us free — the men and women of our armed forces, both veterans and active-duty members — is one of the most important and heartfelt facets of the Flyers Alumni’s yearly activities in the Delaware Valley community.
On Dec. 10, 2023, Flyers Alumni Association president Brad Marsh and members of the Flyers Warriors hockey program visited the Veterans’ Mult-Service Center (VMC) to present a $2,500 donation during the holiday season.
Founded in 1980, VMC is nationally recognized non-profit organization providing comprehensive services to veterans VMC’s mission is to provide services, programs, opportunity and advancement to veterans of the U.S military and their families. Services include employment and housing assistance to veterans in need, veterans benefits and claims assistance, a suicide prevention program and other vital outreach.
Learn more here: https://www.vmcenter.org/
White House Outdoor Rink Hockey Clinic
Flyers Alumni John LeClair, Bob Kelly and Brad Marsh, along with Flyers youth and amateur hockey programs director Rob Baer traveled to Washington, DC, to conduct hockey clinics on the outdoor rink at the South Lawn of the White House on December 12-13. Players representing the Learn to Play program, Flyers Special Hockey, the Liberty Belles girls hockey program, and Snider Hockey were among the participants.
“The Learn to Play program has been massive for us,” Baer said to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “Over the last seven years, we’ve put thousands of kids on the ice, many of whom otherwise probably would’ve never picked up a stick, and we’ve seen tremendous growth at the higher levels in our area because we’re laying that foundation with Learn to Play, introducing kids to the sport for the first time, providing all of the equipment. They’re getting hooked and they’re staying in the game.”
Added Marsh, “Between programs like the Learn to Play Rookies, Flyers Special Hockey and our connection to the Flyers Warriors program for veterans, along with the work that Snider Hockey does and the growth of girls’ hockey in our region, we’re demonstrating that hockey really is for everyone. I’m a Canadian but going to the White House for an event like this was something pretty awesome.”
DAY 4: Busansky Elementary School
Each year since the creation of the 12 Days of Christmas giving program, the Flyers Alumni have made a holiday season donation to the Samuel Busansky Upper Elementary School (Pemberton, NJ) toward the school’s annual holiday toy drive for families in need. The school and its toy drive have special meaning to the Kelly family, as Bob’s wife Stacey was a longtime teacher at Busansky. On Dec. 15, 2023, the Hound presented a $2,000 donation to the school on behalf of the Flyers Alumni.
DAY 5: The Mind Your Brain Foundation
December 15, 2023, was a double donation day for this year’s 12 Days of Christmas program. While Bob Kelly was in Pemberton for the Busansky school donation, Brad Marsh visited the Mind Your Brain Foundation to present a $5,000 donation to the non-profit organization.
Headquartered in Paoli, PA, The Mind Your Brain Foundation is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of all those affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI). Per the organization, The Mind Your Brain Foundation fills a gap in the continuity of care of patients with TBI.
While medical and ancillary services exist for patients in the acute and rehabilitative stages of care, until Mind Your Brain was founded, there existed no formal network of services for survivors who already passed these stages of care and seek rehabilitation options for a lifetime of improvement.
In collaboration with TBI-focused academic medical centers and regional hospitals, the Mind Your Brain Foundation provides the basis for community based, patient-centric conferences and ongoing online support by providing education, advocacy, direct support services, and research to enhance the quality of life for those affected by brain injury. This includes not only TBI patients and survivors but also families and caregivers. All affected by brain injury have equal — and immediate — access to services and support need to help them lead full and meaningful lives.
For more information, visit https://www.mindyourbrainfoundation.org/.
DAY 6: Every Child Deserves a Bike (Josh Johnson)
Each year during the 12 Days of Christmas giving campaign, we overlap one of the days with our Every Child Deserves a Bike program. Through the generous support of sponsors and donations from Flyers Fans, we are able to build and donate fully customized adaptive bicycles to local special needs children whose independent mobility and quality of life would benefit from the use of adaptive bike. Insurance typically does not cover the devices, although their therapeutic benefits are well-documented, and they are cost prohibitive ($5,000 to $7,500 or higher, depending on the specifications) to many families. Recipients are selected via our ongoing partnership with Help Hope Live.
On December 16, 2023, Brad Marsh visited Joshua Johnson and his family at their home in Glen Mills, PA, to present an adaptive bike to Josh as a special present from the Alumni. Born in Vietnam, Josh’s journey has not been easy, but he is blessed to be surrounded by a loving and supportive family. Josh, who is confined to a wheelchair and uses an adaptive speech device to communicate, deals with atheloid cerebral palsy. Josh has extensive care needs but has made remarkable progress, and his family is with him through every challenge.
The Flyers Alumni are especially pleased to be able to make this gift to Josh because he’s a member of the Flyers PowerPlay power wheelchair hockey program and an avid fan of the Philadelphia Flyers. As such, Josh and the Johnsons are extended members of the Flyers/Flyers Alumni family. We believe in helping our own whenever possible.
To learn more about Josh’s story and assist Help Hope Live and his family with a donation to help cover his care services, please visit his campaign page at https://helphopelive.org/campaign/22436/ for more information.
DAY 7: The Arc of Haywood County (Waynesville, NC)
Flyers Alumni Association board member Bill Clement is also on the board of directors for the Arc of Haywood County. It is an organization whose mission statement is close to the Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster’s heart.
“My wife, Cissie and I are so blessed to have four children. Our daughter Christa has Multiple Sclerosis and has her own family. A true champion. Our daughter Regan has Down Syndrome and when we moved to Waynesville and discovered the Arc of Haywood County, we knew we were home. It is an honor for me to serve on the board of directors,” Clement said.
The Arc provides a variety of vital support services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental delays as well as their families. The Arc of Haywood County operates a group home, provides employment/job coaching, community living services for individuals who are capable of living on their own as well as individuals who live with family members but need assistance a few times each week to learn life and social skills to help them become more independent. The Arc of Haywood County advocates on the local, regional, state and national level to fulfill its mission.
On Dec.14.2023, Clement presented the Arc of Haywood County a $5,000 check from the Flyers Alumni Association as part of the 2023 edition of the 12 Days of Christmas program.
For more information, visit the Arc of Haywood County’s official website.
DAY 8: Philadelphia Freeze
Prior to the Dec. 21 game at the Wells Fargo Center in which the Flyers took on the Nashville Predators, Brad Marsh presented a $2,500 check to the Philadelphia Freeze special hockey program as part of the 12 Days of Christmas.
Associated with the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA), the Philadelphia Freeze is a special needs hockey team in the American Special Hockey Association 501c3. We are a local nonprofit organization dedicate to serving anyone ages five and older with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities through the sport of hockey. Philadelphia Freeze provides an environment of learning, mutual respect, and a sense of community to the players and families of those the organization serves. On April 6 to 7, 2024, the organization will hold its sixth annual pond hockey tournament.
For more information, click here.
DAY 9: Comprehensive Stroke Center at University of Pennsylvania Hospital
Prior to the Dec. 21 game at the Wells Fargo Center in which the Flyers took on the Nashville Predators, the Flyers Alumni made a $3,000 donation to the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital as part of our 12 Days of Christmas program. On hand for the presentation were Riley Cote, Dave Schultz, Brian Propp (himself a stroke survivor), Brad Marsh, Joe Watson and Jimmy Watson.
The Penn Stroke Center is a Joint Commission-certified Comprehensive Stroke Center. As a comprehensive center, patients who have suffered a stroke have access to the most advanced resources available for the treatment of stroke. Penn stroke physicians evaluate, diagnose and treat stroke and other diseases affecting the blood vessels in the brain.
The Penn Stroke Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania was awarded certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). It was the first hospital in Philadelphia to become certified as a comprehensive stroke center. This new level of certification recognizes the significant resources in staff and training that comprehensive stroke centers must have to treat complex stroke cases.
The Penn Stroke Center team includes highly skilled neurologists, neurosurgeons and emergency medicine providers who work together to administer patient care and optimize recovery. For more information, click here.
DAY 10: Buckets of Love
Buckets of Love was recommended by Flyers Alum Gary Dornhoefer as a potential 12 Days of Giving donation recipient. On the 10th day of our 2023 campaign, we donated $2,00 to the organization. Founded in 2017 by two sisters from Delaware, The Buckets of Love Foundation strives to bring happiness to children in need of joy. Buckets of Love spreads joy and happiness by filling buckets with age-appropriate toys, games and crafts for children ages 2 – 12 who are receiving major medical care, reside in homeless shelters or are otherwise facing a difficult situation.
In 2023, Buckets of Love realized its goal of filling and donating more than 10,00 buckets. Donations are accepted year-round.
For more information, visit https://www.bucketsoflove.us/
Day 11: Ronald McDonald House
Back in 2016, the Flyers Alumni Association painted, renovated and furnished a Flyers-themed room at the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey in Camden. This year. on the 11th Day of our 12 Days of Christmas campaign, we made a $3,500 donation.
The Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey provides a “home-away-from-home” for pediatric patients and their families. We also operate 11 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in area hospitals located across south Jersey. As with the nationwide network of Ronald McDonald Houses, the facility focuses on the critical needs of families and their children while providing a warm, welcoming and compassionate atmosphere. It’s a community where medically fragile children and their families embrace life and healing with a sense of hope, enthusiasm, courage, and joy.
For more information, visit https://www.rmhsnj.org/.
Day 12: Eluna
Eluna was created in 2000 by Philadelphia Phillies alum pitcher and Souderton, PA, native Jamie Moyer along with his wife, child welfare advocate Karen Phelps Moyer. Founded in Seattle Eluna expanded in 2012 to include a new headquarters in Philadelphia.
The mission of Eluna is to support children and families impacted by grief or addiction. Our innovative resources and programs address the critical needs of children experiencing powerful, overwhelming and often confusing emotions associated with the death of someone close to them or substance abuse in their family. Eluna is dedicated to energizing new research on bereavement and coping with addiction within a household, inspiring political advocacy that will lead to higher standards of care and positive outcomes for children.
Flyers Alumni Association president Brad Marsh and Alumni Association co-founder Joe Watson, a member of the Flyers Hall of Fame, presented a $3,000 donation to Eluna as part of the 12 Days of Christmas Campaign. Joe’s wife, Jamie, works with Eluna as the not-for-profit organization’s special events coordinator.
For more information, visit https://elunanetwork.org/