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Blues Employees Give Back to Community

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

 Blues Live to Give Photo Gallery

ST. LOUIS - Throughout the season, St. Louis Blues players make countless appearances in the community, whether its hospital visits, school appearances, blood drives or events that benefit charitable organizations like the Blues for Kids Foundation.

But community appearances and charitable work isn’t something reserved for just the players. The front office staff is getting involved, too.

On Thursday, nearly 60 St. Louis Blues, Scottrade Center and Peabody Opera House employees volunteered to give back to their community as part of the team’s second annual Live to Give initiative. Jobs included everything from cleaning up graffiti along the riverfront to walking dogs for Stray Rescue to packing boxes at the St. Louis Area Foodbank in Bridgeton.

“It makes everybody in the organization proud,” said Blues Chairman Tom Stillman, who helped set up an ice cream social for elderly residents at a Cardinal Ritter Senior Services location. “It’s part of the DNA of the Blues organization, and it has been for a long time. It’s an important part of who we are.

“We’re not twisting any arms either,” Stillman added. “Our employees are vying for spots. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for something like this.”

The Live to Give program began last summer with five volunteer opportunities. This year, employees were helping out at six locations.

The initiative is organized by the Blues’ community relations staff, which consists of Randy Girsch and Hannah Uhlenbrock.

“Our staff gets to go into their community and help make it better, whether it’s weeding gardens or covering up graffiti and more,” said Uhlenbrock, who spent Thursday at the Neighborhood Pride Community Garden picking weeds and harvesting vegetables that would be donated to people in need. “The Live to Give program really gives our employees a chance to give back to St. Louis. It’s just a great day all around.”

At the St. Louis Area Foodbank, Blues’ staff members helped pack nearly 2,000 boxes of food that will be donated to people in need. That translates to almost 48,000 pounds and nearly 40,000 meals for the hungry.

DJ Finnegan, who works as a Volunteer Center Manager for the Foodbank, said his work now is much more rewarding than his career in a corporate job.

“We were always measured by (financial) success,” Finnegan said. “But it never scratched the itch to help as well as giving a box of food to somebody and seeing their smile does. I wouldn’t trade all those spreadsheets for that smile, knowing we did something meaningful for a person. And it’s a special day whenever the Blues come out. Their employees were shoulder-to-shoulder with the community in fighting hunger, so we were very elated.

“The Blues aren’t just a great sports team, but an organization that’s doing a lot more and giving back.”

Megan Little, the Blues’ Senior Director of Event Marketing / Advertising, felt a personal connection to greeting elderly residents at Cardinal Ritter.

“My grandma was in a facility similar to this, and I lived out of state,” Little recalls. “So when I would call and talk to her, she would tell me about the volunteers that had visited her that week and the activities they participated in. It meant a lot to her, so I’m glad I can do this.”

“It’s the best gift that we can give,” said Blues Executive Assistant Lisa Cwiklowski. “It’s an honor to be able to help in the community. It’s great we get the chance to do it throughout the year.”

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