On a cold Tuesday morning in Hempstead, it wasn't lost on the volunteers at the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen that the people waiting outside would need something warm.
With that in mind, Grace Lee, the wife of the Islanders' captain, manned the hot tea station, brewing, pouring and steeping alongside Brittney Greiss, who was buttering bread for sandwiches and sides.
In the kitchen, Cassie Clutterbuck and Karley Nelson chopped apples, pears, strawberries and more for a fruit salad, while Kristy Cizikas sliced peppers and carrots. Emily Bayless (Scott Mayfield's fiancé), Brandy Ladd and Jen Citrullo (Adam Pelech's girlfriend) unpacked and sorted donated dry goods for the guest choice pantry.
Video: Player's Wives Soup Kitchen Visit
With Thanksgiving a little over a week away, this was how a group of the Islanders wives and girlfriends spent their Tuesday, volunteering to help feed those in need on Long Island.
"We love to get together and give back, we do it every year," Lee said. "We feel really blessed for our lives here and being on Long Island. It's really important to give back to Long Island and show our appreciation for being here."
Volunteering at soup kitchens and food pantries have become an annual event for the Isles wives and girlfriends, who are active members of the community. The impact of helping those who are less fortunate still holds strong. Cizikas said she was moved by the story of guests who are forced out of their building from 8 a.m. to noon, so the Mary Brennan INN is one of the few places they can go in the intervening hours, especially as the temperature dips in the fall and winter.
"Coming here is humbling and makes you realize how many people are actually in need around you," Cizikas said. "Being here and seeing all the ladies and the men who are volunteering their time to help these people in need is really amazing."
The Isles wives and girlfriends don't ask for any notoriety or special treatment when they volunteer, but their contributions are appreciated by the folks who operate the kitchen and pantry.
"When volunteers come here to the Mary Brennan INN, they are looking to cook or sort, but the biggest thing they really experience is the giving," Jean C. Victor, manager of the Mary Brennan INN, said. "The giving of their energy, of their hearts and their kindness to the guests. A lot of our guests need that to survive for a day. So when we have volunteers coming to the Mary Brennan INN giving up their hearts and time, it's a big thing, that's what our guests need every day."
"To have that extra energy and especially to have the Islanders' wives here is so huge," he added. "It'll bring them hope. It'll definitely make their lives a little better than it was today."
Learn more about the Mary Brennan INN here.
The Islanders will be holding a food drive at Thursday's game at Barclays Center. Fans who bring six or more non-perishable food items will receive a ticket voucher to a future game. All food proceeds benefit Rock n Wrap It Up.