Giving back to the community is a part of the Islanders commitment to Long Island.
Several players have created charity programs that they will participate in during this season, with each contributing to various causes. Josh Bailey
, Matt Martin
, Matt Moulson
, John Tavares
, Kyle Okposo
and Michael Grabner
have either decided to team up with a local or national charity or create their own program which will benefit the Islanders Children’s Foundation.
“Obviously, we are pretty fortunate in life, and I know I’ve been blessed so I just want to give back somehow,” said Islanders forward Martin, who teamed up with Defending the Blue Line this season. “I just think it’s very important for us to give back to people – especially to those people who have done so much for us – and show them that we appreciate them.”
|Matt Martin works with Defending the Blue Line to bring a military veteran and his/her child to Islanders games. |
Defending the Blue Line gives opportunities to the children of service men and women who normally wouldn’t get the chance to experience certain activities, especially when a parent is overseas fighting in the war. Each home game this season, Martin will host a veteran and their child to enjoy the game, and after the game, each will have the opportunity to meet Matt and get autographs.
“I felt like giving back to some of the people who went over and fought in the war would be a pretty good idea,” Martin said. “I haven’t really met too many people in the war, so it will be interesting for me as well. We’re very lucky to live in a free country, and they’ve been through some really tough times, so I just want them to get to a hockey game with their families and I just want them to enjoy life a little bit.”
Isles forward Josh Bailey
is continuing his Bailey’s Buddy program which was created last season. This program invites children who are sick, underprivileged or in need of mentoring for the opportunity to enjoy a game.
“It went really well last year, so I figured, why not do it again,” Bailey said. “I get tickets for every home game for the child to come and they can bring a parent or mentor. They’ll get a gift package for coming to the game, and after the game, they’ll come down to the locker room to meet me for a little bit and get a tour of the locker room.”
He added, “They get to see a lot of the guys, get some autographs and kind of get the whole postgame experience. I think they really enjoy it. There are some children who are already huge Islanders fans and know more about the team than I do, and there are kids that have never seen or played hockey before. There’s always a good mix of children.”
|Josh Bailey continues his Bailey's Buddies program, hosting children that are sick, underprivileged or in need of mentoring at Islanders games. |
Another player inviting guests to all Islanders home games this season is John Tavares
. Like, Bailey’s Buddy Program, Tavares will invite children who are ill, underprivileged or of special needs to come out to the Coliseum for a game. Working with the Special Olympics of Long Island and other local charitable organizations, Tavares will host the children and a family member and give them the opportunity to come down to the locker room postgame.
Moulson, like Martin, has decided to team up with another military charity program. After attending a Wounded Warrior event with his wife, Alicia, they decided they wanted to help the organization any way that they could.
“My wife and I were fortunate enough to attend one of the events this past summer and it was extremely touching,” Moulson said. “We heard some really heartfelt speeches by some of the guys in the program and really learned how the program has helped them.”
After getting a positive response from the Wounded Warrior program, Moulson knew it was the right thing for him to do.
“We really wanted to help the organization because it’s something very important, especially with the people who serve the country and serve all of us,” he said. “Unfortunately, they had to suffer injuries and different mental illnesses, so we really want to pay tribute to them. It will be good to meet them and really get to know a little bit about them.”
Moulson teamed up with a familiar face for his second charity program this season. He and his brother-in-law, Jonathan Quick – goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings – created the 326 Foundation. Last season, Moulson donated to the Islanders Children’s Foundation based upon each goal that he scored, but after talking with Quick and their wives, they decided to build upon last season’s objective.
We decided to team up to raise some more money for the Islanders Children’s Foundation, but also the Kings Care Foundation. We decided on wins for him – hopefully, he gets a lot of them – and goals for me. Hopefully, I get a lot of those, too. - Matt Moulson
“We decided to team up to raise some more money for the Islanders Children’s Foundation, but also the Kings Care Foundation,” Moulson said. “We decided on wins for him – hopefully, he gets a lot of them – and goals for me. Hopefully, I get a lot of those, too.”
For each goal Moulson scores, he will donate $500 to the fund, while Quick will make his own donation for each win he achieves. At the end of the season, the money will be dispersed to both organizations’ children’s foundations. Though Moulson would like to disperse the donations to as many people as possible, he said this fund is just the beginning.
“We would obviously love to help everyone, but it’s hard to get to everyone,” he said. “Right now, we’re concentrating on the kids, but we’ll take it from there and see how it develops over the next few seasons.”
Both Okposo and Grabner will also contribute to the ICF based upon their goal totals. Each will donate $300 for each goal they score. Grabner will be sure to match or go over his team-leading 34 goals last season to help contribute more to the foundation.
No matter the charity or program, Islanders players are always committed to helping the community. If you know of a child or military veteran who would benefit from any of the above programs, please submit their story to Ann.Rina@newyorkislanders.com