BOSTON — Every year, the Bruins bring holiday cheer to hundreds of children around Boston by delivering toys, Bruins’ gifts and plenty of smiles.
Hall of Famer Ray Bourque started the Bruins Holiday Toy Shopping and Holiday Toy Delivery tradition when he was captain, and the event has continued on for decades.
For the sixth straight year, Patrice Bergeron spearheaded the effort. All of the toys were purchased through donations from the Bruins players, coaching staff and the Boston Bruins Foundation.
The entire roster went up and down the aisles shopping for toys in November, and then delivered them to six Boston hospitals on Dec. 15 after practice. The gifts will be given to more than 600 children who are unable to celebrate the holidays at home.
Split up into groups, the players visited Boston Children's Hospital, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Franciscan Hospital for Children, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, and Shriners Hospital for Children & Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Brad Marchand was part of the group that visited Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, along with Tuukka Rask, Loui Eriksson and Brett Connolly.
“I think it’s very important. It’s the time of year where you want the kids to be able to enjoy the holidays and Christmas and do something like this, and make a couple of kids happy,” said Marchand. “It’s worth it and it’s worth it to see their smiles, even for a couple minutes.”
“We all really love this and love being a part of it and it will be something that is carried on for a long time.”
Going from room to room throughout the hospital, Marchand and his teammates made all of the children feel important the second they walked into the rooms, asking them about their favorite games, TV shows, super heroes and Ninja Turtles.
One young boy, Jackson, was anxiously waiting for the Bruins outside his room. He shouted to Connolly, smiled and yelled, “It’s Olaf!” (Connolly was wearing a snowman hat based off of the Frozen movie character “Olaf”).
All of the Bruins were wearing festive hats along with their Bruins’ jerseys. They brought out smiles whenever they walked into a room.
In one area of the hospital, where The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care is prevalent, a group of patients were patiently waiting for the Bruins to come visit them. They were beyond themselves when the four Black & Gold jerseys walked in.
“There’s different reactions, but I always enjoy the ones where we can hear the kids talking in their rooms, and especially if there’s a group of them and we go in and it goes silent and you can hear a pin drop and they’re just kind of in shock,” smiled Marchand. “So it’s always fun to see all of their different reactions, but I always enjoy those.”
While their presence seemed to surely be enough, the Bruins also handed out gifts, signed autographs and took photos with the patients.
At the other hospitals around Boston, their teammates were spreading the same cheer.
“They always seem to enjoy it, so it’s fun to do this every year,” said Marchand. “and it’s something that we all enjoy being a part of.”