This holiday season, 12 Days of Giving will highlight some of the most impactful ways the team has given back to the community.
Visit stlouisblues.com daily from Dec. 13-24 for personal accounts of Blues players, executives, staff and the people most impacted by the club's community involvement.
The last 11 days of our 12 Days of Giving feature highlights just a small sample of the many programs our department is lucky to have the opportunity to develop and coordinate day in and day out. While the St. Louis Blues have a long history of being active in the community, the quality and quantity of community initiatives have increased tremendously since Tom Stillman and the all local ownership group took over and made their commitment to St. Louis, as well as their investment to grow the community development department.
While our grass roots initiatives are reaching numbers we could only have dreamed years ago, one of the most impressive and important increases is the amount of dollars Blues for Kids Foundation is giving through the grant program. During the 2018-19 season, Blues for Kids donated more than $1.5 million, including more than $600,000 through grants to over 100 to local non-profits that focus on improving the lives of children through health & wellness, education, cancer care and awareness and/or youth hockey program.
One of the first distinctions I noticed about St. Louis when I arrived in 2008 is the sheer generosity of the people who live or are from the city. We are able to make a real impact with our programs because of the fans and companies that believe in Blues for Kids mission. Whether simply purchasing a mystery puck or sponsoring one of our annual events, every donation is important and we are truly grateful for your support.
Thank you for following along with the last 12 Days of Giving and I hope you enjoy the Holiday Season. - Randy Girsch, Vice President of Community Development & Event Management
Home for Education
One of the things that makes St. Louis such a special place is the true sense of community that the people of the region have - and their pride in looking after and supporting people and things that are important to the city. There is strong support from our many local businesses for things that enhance and bring value and support to the people and programs of our area.
The synergies that we have created between our Corporate Partnership and our Community Relations departments have generated numerous opportunities for local companies to bond with the Blues in meaningful ways that positively impact the the St. Louis Community. One example of such a program took place last season in a partnership with our great friends at McBride Homes.
McBride Homes has been a longtime partner of the Blues and Blues for Kids Foundation. Last season they approached us wanting to identify new ways our brands can come together to support a need in St. Louis, which led to the Home for Education Raffle.
This initiative allowed fans to buy raffle tickets for the chance to win a new house donated by McBride Homes. Proceeds from the raffle provided additional educational opportunities to students in four area school districts; St. Louis Public Schools, Ferguson - Florissant, Riverview Garderns, and Normandy collaborative school districts.
Thanks to partners like McBride Homes, among other corporate/community partners, Blues for Kids was able to donated $1.4M to the St. Louis community last season. - Steve Chapman, Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer
Jake Allen's First Responders Program
Jake Allen makes saves for a living. He grew up in Canada playing hockey and at some point decided making saves as a goalie was his passion. This past summer Jake called and said he wanted to support local first responders, which made perfect sense to me. First responders make the ultimate saves. They put their lives on the line to help people like you and me and Jake wanted to thank them for that.
Jake and his family are people that put great value in giving back. I knew when he called that he'd want to create an experience that truly thanks the first responders for what they do.
Throughout the season, Jake provides tickets to local police officers, firefighters and paramedics. The tickets are all-inclusive so they can come and enjoy the game with their family not having to worry about anything. After the game, Jake meets each first responder and their family to thank them for all they do.
While the meet and greets are filled with gratitude and emotion, I think the families want to "play it cool" as much as possible. It's after Jake goes back to the locker room that truly gets me. As I walk the families back upstairs I get to see the grateful tears and the smiles that come after meeting him. Those moments are ones that show how far a simple gesture like that can go.
Some people are lucky enough to have a platform where they can promote positivity. Jake uses the platform he has for just that and St. Louis is a greater place because of it. - Hannah Arnold, Director of Community Development St. Louis Blues
Hockey Fights Cancer
Name some people you know that have been impacted by cancer.
A few of my names are Cosmo, Seth, Ellie and Jacques.
Cosmo was my childhood friend, and he passed away after battling cancer on my 11th birthday. I met Seth in 2011 on a hospital visit around the holidays, and we became close friends too before he passed away. Ellie, my niece, battled a form of kidney cancer that affects young children. I shaved my head to make her feel better about losing her hair because of the chemotherapy. She beat it, and I can't tell you how happy I am to see her smiling face around today. And Jacques is one of my childhood friends' dad and he was recently diagnosed, so his battle is ongoing.
The point is, young or old, cancer can affect anyone, and it affects everyone around them, too.
That's why every year, I am so proud of the efforts the Blues make in the fight against cancer. Whether it's bringing a fan on a road trip, honoring a cancer survivor with a pregame puck drop, raising money to find a cure through auctions and other fundraisers, or inviting kids who are battling cancer to enjoy a variety of unique in-game experiences, the Blues always seem to step up for people in need.
I don't know if a cure is around the corner, but I do know every little bit helps. Hopefully one day, Hockey Fights Cancer is a thing of the past.
Until then, let's all keep fighting. There are a lot of people counting on us. - Alex Pietrangelo, Blues captain
Street Blues program
I have had the amazingly good fortune to have been involved in the game of hockey for over 50 years. Through the sport, I have seen the game's extraordinary ability to help develop so many critical life skills. Teamwork, discipline, and integrity are all core principles the game helps teach.
When I arrived in St Louis in 2014, I saw the exceptional role the St. Louis Blues Alumni had played in establishing nationally-recognized youth hockey players and teams. I saw the challenge for the Blues to create a roadmap to keep expanding the game to new players and communities throughout the region, with both on and off ice programs.
The Street Blues Ball Hockey Programs is one of the programs that we launched soon after I arrived. This program provides a complete set of street hockey equipment and a curriculum guide to local schools and boys and girls clubs to implement in their physical education classes at no cost. In addition to providing the equipment, the Blues Street Team visits the schools and helps implement the program for the first two weeks. This program is currently implemented in 220 schools and just over 99,000 students annually.
Check back soon as I know we have a big celebration planned when we reach the 100,000-student milestone in early 2020. - Chris Zimmerman, Blues President and CEO
Holiday Hospital Visits
Walking through the halls of St. Louis Children's Hospital, you might never know what those families are experiencing.
They might be having the worst day of their lives to date. They could be hearing news that rocks their world. Or, they could be experiencing a new beginning.
As employees we know St. Louis Children's Hospital is special. It's a place of healing, encouragement, hope and even fun. And the St. Louis Blues organization has so much to do with that. It's hard to put into words the impact that the Blues organization has made on so many families who have had a child receive care at Children's. The generosity and kindness of the Blues players, Louie and the entire organization is truly immeasurable. There are so many magical experiences the organization has provided for our families - from hospital visits, to special patient experiences at games, Louie surprises, and, of course, the numerous Blues for Kids events.
I've seen kids that haven't smiled in weeks, smile. Kids who have struggled to get out of their hospital beds for days, get up for a hug. I've seen parents who have had their world turned upside down be able to take a breath at the sight of their child enjoying themselves, even if it is only for a moment.
To some, these moments may seem small. But to our patients, families and staff at St. Louis Children's Hospital - they mean the world. I hope the Blues organization and players know how incredibly meaningful their time spent with our patients and families truly is. -Whitney Kohlmeyer, Patient Family Ambassador St. Louis Children's Hospital Foundation
Seeing what the St. Louis Blues do each year to honor the military is always very special to me. Whether it was during my time as a player or now as an assistant coach, any tributes to the military always hit close to home.
You see, both of my parents served for 25 years in the Canadian Air Force. My dad was a member of the helicopter squadron and served alongside members of the US Military overseas many times, and my mom worked in the weapons department. While they served, we moved from town to town too many times to count, so I know a bit about the sacrifices people in the military make for the honor of serving their country.
I'm very proud of my parents, and although I grew up in Canada, I'm also very proud of the brave men and women who represent the United States at Military Nights during our games. You guys make it possible for us to do what we love - and that's play the game hockey. I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you for all you do. - Steve Ott
St. Louis Children's Hospital Visits and Skate Party
So far this year, I've met Jack, Marisa and Kenny and their families, and I'll get to meet more kids soon. Throughout the season I've been bringing kids who are receiving treatment at St. Louis Children's Hospital, along with their families, to Blues games.
It's special to me because the families get a night away from the hospital and I get the chance to meet them while they sit on the Blues bench during warm-ups. This is the second year of the program and I always look forward to the nights they attend.
My family and I decided we wanted to do a little more for these families this year, so we hosted a group for a Holiday Skate Party at Enterprise Center. They met Santa Louie, toured the locker room and got to skate with Colton Parayko and myself.
It's nice to see families and kids that are going through so much get the opportunity to experience something fun together. If we can brighten their day and put a smile on their face, even for a little bit, it's worth it. - Brayden Schenn
Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees is a fun and easy way for our families to create unique auction items for fans. From the different themes, to decorating, to game tickets to signed items by players, this community initiative truly gets people excited for the holidays!
However, the real reason why this initiative is so important to our families is because it supports organizations like Lydia's House and The Little Bit Foundation. As a group of women, and many of us with children, we advocate for the women and children in the St. Louis area who are experiencing domestic violence and poverty. We hope to continue our efforts with Lydia's House and The Little Bit Foundation, and it wouldn't be possible without the help of donations made by fans to our Festival of Trees auction.
You can place your bid on one of our trees or wreaths starting Monday, December 16 at 10 a.m. by visiting blues.givesmart.com or texting BLUES to 52182. - Shannon Allen, wife of Jake Allen, on behalf of the Blues Better Halves
Friends of Kids with Cancer Meet and Greets
Finding out your sibling has cancer is something you never want to hear. That kind of news leaves your mind spinning. Your teammate, your best friend, your sibling is about to go through a battle you can't imagine. As a sibling you feel their pain and you just want to see them get better.
I experienced the loss of a sibling. My sister, Mandi, passed away after her battle with acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. My family and I miss her everyday.
To honor her memory and legacy, myself and Blues for Kids have partnered with Friends of Kids with Cancer to invite families that have experienced the loss of a sibling to Blues games throughout the year. I am lucky enough to meet each family postgame and hopefully give them an experience that can bring a smile to their face.
The best thing I can do for Mandi is honor her by giving back and battling to find a cure. - Jaden Schwartz
Wells Fargo Advisors First Game Program
Hockey memories are lifetime memories, and the Blues and Wells Fargo Advisors are creating those memories for kids in the St. Louis area through the First Game Program.
By working with different organizations across St. Louis, Blues for Kids and Wells Fargo Advisors are donating tickets to give children the opportunity to enjoy their first Blues game. Alongside receiving tickets to their first game, kids invited to the program receive a food voucher, a First Game Program T-shirt and certificate and a pregame Hockey 101 course taught by Blues radio play-by-play announcer Chris Kerber and color analyst Joey Vitale.
"The energy and excitement you see in the faces of children getting ready for their first hockey game ever - it revitalizes me every time and reminds me of why I love this game so much," Vitale said.
"Many of these kids would never get to go to a game if it weren't for the First Game Program," added Jessica Knox, the Blues' Youth Hockey Coordinator. "Some kids walk in knowing nothing about hockey and are just excited they get a chance to do something different and eat stadium food. Joey Vitale, Chris Kerber and Louie are the perfect trio to introduce them to the sport and start them on their journey to being lifelong Blues fans."
Ryan's Den Suite Program
When Ryan O'Reilly joined the St. Louis Blues last season, he made an immediate impact on the St. Louis community by forming two programs, Ryan's Den and 90's Mighty R'OR. At every Blues home game, both programs provide local children with game tickets and a meet and greet experience that they will never forget.
In November, we invited Blues Special Hockey to be Ryan's guest for his suite program, Ryan's Den. While Blues Special Hockey was waiting to meet Ryan postgame, their chaperone started a water bottle flip challenge to keep them entertained. When Ryan entered the room, the team's first question for No. 90 was whether he would join them in a best-of-three water bottle flipping tournament right then and there.
Ryan insisted he wasn't very good, but was up for the challenge! Watch the video below to see what happened. - Abbie Lucasey, Manager of Community Development