After Monday's practice at Wilmington's Ristuccia Memorial Arena, the Bruins traveled down I-93 to Woburn where they joined the crowds of people doing their holiday shopping at Target.
However, instead of checking off items on their personal gift list, the B's spent their money on gifts for the youngest patients at local hospitals.
Alternate captain Patrice Bergeron
, who spear-headed the event for the third year, said the annual shopping sojourn is an important cause for the team, especially because it happens during the holiday season.
"Christmas is always the best time of year for me," said Bergeron. "It's something I've always been excited to be a part of."
Holiday shopping is nothing new to the B's or Bergeron.
Bruins Hall of Famer Ray Bourque started the player holiday toy shopping and delivery tradition when he was captain, and defenseman Hal Gill and forward P.J. Axelsson continued Bourque’s efforts during their time with the Bruins.
Bergeron took over responsibility for the shopping from Axelsson and will again coordinate the delivery of the toys later this month.
Captain Zdeno Chara
explained the process.
"We all get a list of items that shows different groups of children based on their ages and we go basically and try to hit every item on the list," said the defenseman. "Once we've completed the list, everything is gathered together and goes to [the hospitals]."
The toys will then be packed and transported to each of the hospitals courtesy of Gentle Giant Moving Company. In addition, Volvo will provide transportation for the players to each facility for the toy delivery on December 20.
Children's Hospital Boston, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Franciscan Hospital for Children and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center will be the recipients of the B's hand picked gifts.
"Sometimes kids don't have the chance to [celebrate] at home," said Chara of patients at the hospitals. "It's something I think is very important...to at least make it a little bit more enjoyable for them."
Members of B's roster donated money for today's shopping excursion their own pockets and the Boston Bruins organization will match every dollar the team raises. Last year $20,000 worth of toys were purchased and donated by the players and the organization.
Toy shopping veterans like defenseman Adam McQuaid
were delighted to return to the store's isles for another season of giving.
"This time of year... especially for kids [is a] magical time of year," said McQuaid, who added he was excited for the chance to help make the holiday season "the way it's supposed to be" for patients at the hospitals.
"It's something that maybe you take for granted that you wake up and there will be toys there on the 25th and for some kids that's not the case," said forward Chris Kelly
. "If we can give back a little bit and put a smile on a few kids faces, then this is all worth it."---Amanda Ostuni