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Islanders 'Adopt' Families for the Holidays

Team sponsored a festive holiday party for underprivileged families on Long Island

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

The looks on their faces said it all. 

The smiles on children receiving new bikes, dolls, shoes and toys for the holidays. The tears of joy on the faces of their moms and dads watching their kids unwrap presents. 

It was a heartwarming scene at Northwell Health Ice Center on Tuesday night, as the New York Islanders partnered with the Family and Children's Association to sponsor a holiday party for families connected to the Nursery Co-Op in Hempstead. 

"Each one of us are happy to be here and do this," Josh Bailey said. "When you see the smiles on the kids faces and how much it means to the parents as well, it makes it all worthwhile." 

Tweet from @NYIslanders: Bigger than hockey. It���s moments like these that matter. 💙This mom at the #Isles & @FCA_daily Adopt A Family event just found out that her kids are getting new bikes for Christmas thanks to Thomas Greiss, @Tkuhn14 and Luca Sbisa. #HockeyWithAHeart

The Islanders, along with their wives and girlfriends, "adopted" families for the holiday season, buying presents and lending a helping hand for those in need. The goal was simple, help make a memorable holiday for underprivileged families. 

"It brings you back to that humble experience of knowing there are kids who wake up on Christmas morning not having too many gifts under the tree," Megan Bailey said. "So if we can bring even a little smile to their face today, and their parents and kind of let off a little stress of that, it means the world to all of us."

And it meant the world to the families as well. One mother, Sofia M., expressed her gratitude for the Islanders' generosity by blessing the organization and thanking everyone for coming together for the community. 

"The kids are absolutely head over heels excited about getting the gifts," Mendoza said through a translator.

The Islanders tried to put their own personal touches on the gifts they bought for the kids. Thomas Greiss, an avid mountain biker, teamed up with Tom Kuhnhackl and Luca Sbisa to buy new bikes for the kids. Megan Bailey tried to think about the toys her two sons, Wyatt and Mack, played with when picking out gifts, just as she'd done at the wives and girlfriends holiday shopping event a week prior. Santa and Sparky were big hits with the young kids as well. 

Tweet from @NYIslanders: Tonight the #Isles��� ���have partnered with @FCA_daily & the Nursery Co-Op to host local families in need at @NHIceCenter. 😊Each Islanders family has ���adopted a family��� and hand-selected gifts to make their holiday season extra special. 🎁

"Everybody on the team enjoyed giving gifts out and seeing smiles on the kid's faces," Brock Nelson said. "Just to meet the families, see them, grab some food. Michael is two-and-a-half and his face lit up when Santa walked through the door. It's cool to see that, put a smile on their face."

The Adopt-a-Family program is a new addition to the Islanders longstanding tradition of giving back to the community during the holiday season. The Islanders are in a fortunate position and they want to share it with those in need. It's just what this team does and on nights like Tuesday, it's easy to see why they do it. 

Just look at the faces. 

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