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B's Delivered Smiles

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- Maureen Banks, the Chief Operating Officer of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital surely spoke for her counterparts at facilities throughout Boston when she talked about the B's traditional holiday toy delivery on December 21.

The Boston Bruins prepare to deliver some smiles.
"One of the things that we pay attention to is making sure that the children have a sense of being connected to day-to-day life," she said. "That while they are here with us in Spaulding, it's part of a journey of their recovery but we don't want them isolated from regular activities and being able to see the Bruins players here brings real life right to their door."

And when the kids see the Black & Gold jerseys, for just a moment or two, their surroundings seem that much brighter.

"I think that if you look at the energy in the room, the engagement of the kids with the players, there is no doubt that this is a highlight of their whole stay," said Banks. "It also brings the commitment of the Bruins to community right into the patients' rooms, which is invaluable, especially for these kids who are in the hospital in the holiday time."

No matter how busy they may be, between games, practices and their own holiday plans, the Boston Bruins are always able to find time to spread some Christmas cheer through their annual Toy Delivery. This year, the B’s traveled to seven different area hospitals to deliver goodies to children who may not be able to be home for Santa’s visit.

“It’s always a pleasure for us to do this...and to be around the kids. To make some people smile, always makes us feel that much better,” veteran center Marc Savard said during his visit to Children's Hospital.

Shawn Thornton noted that wins and losses seem a little bit less important while he visited the children at Spaulding.

"Obviously, you come in here and it's a whole different set of problems. Especially this time of year, it's not the easiest time for dealing with this stuff," said the B's beat cop. "So, yeah, it puts a lot of stuff in perspective for us."

Shawn's visit was highlighted by a defeat in Wii boxing, as well as decorating some holiday decorations.

"This is the other side that not too many people get to seem," said the noted on-ice pugilist. "Me getting beat up by seven-year-olds and painting pink ornaments!"

A first year Bruin and a player known for his own ever-present smile, Nathan Horton echoed his teammate’s feelings, as he was delighted to be able to boost the young patients’ morale at Children's.

“I think just seeing them smile [was the best part]. Going in the room and giving them some gifts, but just making them smile, I think that’s the main part,” he added.

The children were all noticeably excited. Whether they were 2 or 20, hockey fans or not, they truly seemed to just enjoy having the company. Even the youngest patient to meet the B’s was thrilled by the visit, donning a black and gold winter hat and chanting “Bruins, Bruins, Bruins!”

“It’s just so wonderful when players come in and visit the kids, especially during the holidays when they’re here and they’d rather be home. It just really means so much to them,” said Tara Dhor, Director of Entertainment Marketing for the Children’s Hospital Trust, an important branch of Children’s Hospital Boston.

“Breaking up their day and giving them something to be happy about…They kind of forget where they are for a minute and it’s awesome and really great for their families, too, just to have something to look forward to in their day when they’re having a really hard time.”

The entire Bruins team went shopping at Target last week to pick out the toys and other gifts that they would soon deliver.

“You know, the shopping trip was obviously for the kids also. Anytime we can get out in the community and do those things we enjoy it,” Savard, a father of three, commented.

While all of the players were quick to express how much they enjoyed the whole process of this seasonal tradition, B’s 23-year-old goalie Tuukka Rask felt that finally getting to deliver the gifts to the children was by far the best part.

“Shopping was fun, but this was a little better because we actually got to bring the stuff in and give it out and brighten some kids’ days,” Rask said.

"Christmas is one of the most fun times of year for everyone, and especially children, and not being able to get home, it’s disappointing," said Brad Marchand, who visited The Floating Hospital for Children. "We just want to bring any joy that we can to the children that are here,

"We’re passing out some items, you know, some bears and some blankets and a few gifts...and just being here, talking to them a bit and we just want to try to make them happy for any period of time that we can."

---Ashley Robbins, John Bishop and Taylor Walker
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