The Coyotes' prepared more than 500 boxes of food for the needy elderly in Greater Phoenix Wednesday, the result of the team's community-first approach -- and its celebration of Cesar Chavez Day.
Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez, Chief Hockey Development Officer Shane Doan and Strategic Advisor of Business & Hockey Operations Alex Meruelo Jr., participated in the volunteer effort, along with approximately 50 other members of the Coyotes front-office staff.
"I can't think of a better way to honor Cesar Chavez than by being in service of others," Gutierrez said. "That's what he stood for. He not only put his words behind that, but he took action.
"We could think of no better way to pay tribute than to be here helping our fellow community," Gutierrez continued. "For the first time, we are celebrating Cesar Chavez day as an organization by doing exactly what he would do, which is to help others."
The Coyotes packed CSFP boxes -- Commodity Supplemental Food Program boxes -- for low-income seniors. The boxes included nutritious USDA foods, such as: oatmeal, canned fruits and vegetables, raisins, bottled juices, shelf stable milk, dry milk, peanut butter, black beans, kidney beans, chicken, beef chili, rice, spaghetti and pasta sauce.
Gutierrez noted the health and financial crises caused by the pandemic.
"So many in this Valley have been impacted," Gutierrez said. "It really takes a toll when you're not able to put food on the table. So, we chose to do something that would really make a difference today."
The St. Mary's Food Bank is the oldest food bank in the United States.
The Coyotes' volunteer efforts embodied teamwork, said Doan, who knows the true meaning of collaboration.
"It truly felt like we were on a team working together," Doan said. "I loved it. Working as a team, you're in there also meeting other people. There are incredible people who show up here and volunteer. The way they have it fine-tuned, the assembly line -- it keeps rolling things out. They have the music playing, and you're smiling."
Gutierrez enjoyed the music that set the tone for the production line. It was an ebullient mix of hip-hop and R&B from the 80s and 90s. But, he said, what mattered most was the result.
"Everyone embraced the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others."
Said Doan: "Xavier has mentioned many times, as have Mr. Meruelo and the Meruelo family, how important it is that the Coyotes care about the community. This was the physical embodiment of that.
"Our community matters, and the people around you matter, and when you have an opportunity to help them, it affects us all in a positive way."
Gutierrez spoke of the impact of giving back. "You don't realize how much you get out of it," he said.
"I'm honored by the fact that so many members of the Coyotes volunteered," he continued. "Everyone really stepped up, everyone said, 'This is important.' It's not just myself or ownership doing this. It's our organization as a collective, us as a group, us as community leaders really taking action, really leaving a mark and an impact."
All Photos: Kelsey Grant - Arizona Coyotes