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Ducks Host Kids from The Wooden Floor for Holiday Shopping Spree

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Jenelyn Russo

The season of giving continued this week as the Ducks hosted low-income youth from the Santa Ana-based nonprofit organization The Wooden Floor at Target in the Irvine Spectrum, for a holiday shopping spree the kids won’t soon forget.

Ten Ducks players, along with their wives and significant others, treated 24 students currently enrolled in the arts-based youth development program to gifts such as books, toys, clothes and shoes.

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“It’s the holiday season, and I think it’s a great opportunity for us as players to give back to the community,” said Ducks forward Carl Hagelin. “I think that’s part of being a professional athlete. You want to be a good role model, you want to do the right things off the ice. It’s always fun to interact with the kids and just see the joy.”

Hagelin joined Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Shawn Horcoff, Patrick Maroon, Jakob Silfverberg, Chris Stewart and Clayton Stoner as they led the students through the store aisles and helped them fill their shopping carts with items for themselves, their siblings and other family members.

Kesler and his wife, Andrea, were paired up with three girls, including 12-year old Amy Acosta, who selected some clothes, shoes and school supplies, as well as a skateboard.

“Thank you to The Wooden Floor and the Ducks,” Acosta said. “I feel so grateful for everything they’ve given us.”

“It’s pretty rewarding for us to be able to come here and actually meet some of the kids, interact with them, see what they like and see how much they appreciate it,” Getzlaf said. “It’s humbling for us to be involved like this.”

Kesler acknowledged the perspective being involved in an event like this can bring, especially to the players.

“It’s something we can do to brighten up their lives, just a little bit more,” Kesler said. “To see the looks on the kids’ faces, for a pair of boots or a pair of jeans, it really hits home. It makes us thankful for what we’re able to do here, that we can give to these kids who aren’t as fortunate.”

Serving low-income families in Orange County since 1983, The Wooden Floor’s after-school programs utilize the art of dance and dance education as a way to annually provide 375 underserved youth the hope and opportunity needed to break the cycle of poverty.

Since 2005, 100 percent of the graduates from The Wooden Floor have completed high school on time and have immediately enrolled in higher education, as compared to approximately 45 percent of their socioeconomic peers.

“These families that we’ve selected to be here today are families that would otherwise not have Christmas at home,” said Dawn S. Reese, Executive Director and Co-CEO of The Wooden Floor. “An event like this makes a difference by being able to provide that joy of sharing gifts around the tree at Christmas, something that, for many of these students, they are experiencing for the first time.”

Getzlaf and his wife, Paige, were paired with three nine-year old boys, and the Ducks captain enjoyed the chance to personally help the boys choose their gifts.

“It’s pretty rewarding for us to be able to come here and actually meet some of the kids, interact with them, see what they like and see how much they appreciate it,” Getzlaf said. “It’s humbling for us to be involved like this.”

After the shopping was complete, Perry and his wife, Blakeny, took the students for a spin on the ice at the Irvine Spectrum’s outdoor skating rink, OC Chill Ice, sponsored by the Anaheim Ducks. It was a first-time experience for many of the kids, including 13-year old Roxana Rivera, who was thrilled to be able to skate alongside an NHL player.

“I had never skated before, but I think it’s really fun,” Rivera said. “At first it was kind of hard, but I’m getting the hang of it. I think it’s an awesome opportunity.”

Rivera, who was also paired with Kesler and his wife during the shopping spree, conveyed how special it was to have them there to help her choose items that she might need.

“To see them smiling and to be out here skating with them, those are big things,” Perry said. “The impact that we leave as hockey players on different people’s lives, it’s pretty exciting.”

“I thought that it was good for us see that other people are so generous, that they would take their time to give us some things that we normally wouldn’t get,” Rivera said. “And I really loved how they helped us the whole time. I want to thank the Ducks for having us and for helping us out.”

Guiding several of the students around the rink, Perry was happy to lend his skating expertise to the group.

“To see them smiling and to be out here skating with them, those are big things,” Perry said. “The impact that we leave as hockey players on different people’s lives, it’s pretty exciting.”

With this being the eighth consecutive year that the Ducks organization has provided this opportunity for The Wooden Floor’s students, Reese acknowledged the long-term investment of having positive adult figures in the kids’ lives and the encouragement that resonates with them in the days and weeks following the shopping experience.

“There is something very significant that happens in that exchange, even if it’s just for a couple of hours,” Reese said. “The students see that there are people out there who care about them, who take time out of their every day lives for them. It gives them a sense of inspiration to keep going and to keep working hard to move ahead in life.”

For more information on The Wooden Floor, visit www.thewoodenfloor.org.

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