The Islanders kicked off the holiday season at Toys “R” Us Monday, overflowing their shopping carts with all the latest toys, games and dolls for children spending the festive season in Long Island hospitals.
Thanks to a generous donation from Package All Corp, the Islanders picked 500 gifts that they’ll personally deliver to six area hospitals on Dec. 18.
“We’re having fun and obviously it’s for a good cause,” said Islanders forward Colin McDonald. “This is one event that’s easy to get up for. We all remember how special Christmas was as kids, so to do it for kids that are in the hospital, it’s important.”
Gifts for boys were largely based on what the players wanted under the tree growing up. Casey Cizikas had his sights set on Nerf guns, while Matt Martin picked up an incredible hulk. Of course, sporting gear was a given for the professional athletes.
But shopping for girls presented a different challenge. The wall of Barbies can be overwhelming for hockey players, and picking the right one can be especially hard for the tough guys. Finding the perfect doll required some help from the finesse players, so the Islanders brought their wives and girlfriends, who also had to keep their men in check.
“She picked out the things she liked as a little kid for the girls,” Martin said of his girlfriend. “I get a little too excited and start looking for things for myself. She has to remind me that we’re looking for toddlers and infants and not 14, 15 or 24-year-old boys like myself.”
Matt Carkner had the best resource with him for the holiday shopping trip, bringing along his two sons, Chase, 8, and Corbin, 6, to pick out toys for other girls and boys.
“They’ve been hunting out the gifts so far,” Carkner said while the boys zipped around the store. “They don’t get this experience too often. We’re having a blast here together.”
As much fun as it was to walk the aisles and reminisce about childhood, the real reward will be passing the gifts along and lighting up the faces of the kids in the hospitals.
Martin summed it up before heading to practice, “To go into a hospital, give a kid a present and put a smile on their face and talk to them a little bit is something that makes us happy.”
It’s the same holiday spirit that brought Package All Corporation to Toys “R” Us this morning. Package All Corp did their part to improve the holidays for kids going through a tough time.
“Package All Corp was privileged to sponsor this year’s New York Islanders toy shopping event for children in the local area hospitals,” said Sean Canavan, VP of sales and marketing for Package All Corp. “It is a heartfelt honor to put a smile on the face of a child during the holiday season.”