The New York Islanders coaching staff traded in their whistles and dry-erase boards for shopping carts and holiday lists as they visited Toys “R” Us on Wednesday, purchasing more than 450 gifts for pediatric patients at seven different hospitals throughout Long Island and Queens. For the sixth consecutive year, the Islanders woke up early to brighten the days of those who will be in the hospital during the holiday season. The holiday shopping event was sponsored by NAM, National Arbitration and Mediation.
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano, Assistant Coach and Senior Advisor to the General Manager Doug Weight, Assistant Coach Brent Thompson, Player Development Representative Eric Cairns and Video Coach Matt Bertani filled dozens of carts with games, toys, dolls, action figures and more.
“We’re here to help out kids who either won’t be able to enjoy the holidays at home or are in otherwise unfortunate situations,” Capuano said. “I’m thankful to be a part of this. Ever since I’ve been with the Islanders organization, we’ve always done everything we could to give back to the community.”
The Islanders shoppers were tasked with picking out gifts for both girls and boys, ranging from toddlers to teens, which presented a unique challenge for Thompson.
“Shopping for girls can be tricky, although I have a couple of nieces, so I think I did pretty well,” he said. “And I’m sure the boys will enjoy some of the sports-themed gifts that we picked out, like the knee hockey set or the little footballs that will make the nurses go crazy.”
As always, this event wouldn’t be what it is without the support of a partner like NAM, National Arbitration and Mediation.
“This is a heartwarming event and I am very happy that NAM has partnered with the New York Islanders to deliver toys to children in the hospital during this holiday season,” Roy Israel, President and CEO of NAM, National Arbitration and Mediation, said. “With everything that Long Island has been through since the hurricane, I am happy to support a cause that helps spread a little joy this time of year.”
On Dec. 17, the coaching staff and members of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate, will personally deliver the gifts to pediatric patients at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park; Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow; Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola; Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook; Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip; St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside; and North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.
“It’s always nice to help kids who need it, especially around the holidays,” Capuano said. “We’re very fortunate to be in the position we are, so to take some time and help children this time of year is both rewarding and humbling. I know I can’t wait to see their faces when we deliver the gifts.”