With the Holiday Season now in full swing, Islanders players and their wives took time to go toy shopping at Toys 'R' Us on Tuesday morning, for the hospital visits later this month. This annual tradition is only in its second year, but the amount of participants has already doubled.
Last year, Bill and Kara Guerin, Andy and Andrea Hilbert and Karla Sillinger took part in the inaugural shopping spree at Toys 'R' Us, picking out hundreds of toys for the children.
"It was such an enjoyable experience last year," said Andrea. "Andy and I just had to come back and do it again."
Joining the Hilberts and Guerins were Doug and Allison Weight, Freddy and Lindsey Meyer, with their infant son, Freddy, and Richard and Devyn Park.
"I didn't have many toys when I was younger," said Doug. "I had a hockey tape ball and a stick, and that was it. Everything else was gravy. It's incredible the toys they have now. We've been going back to the old school toys like Fisher Price. My wife knows more about today's toys."
"I feel like we're over-thinking everything because you just know the importance of the one gift for each child," said Allison. "You want it to be special, so we're putting pressure on ourselves to get the right thing."
With a year under their belt, the Guerins and Hilberts had a better strategy going into this year.
"Although Karla Sillinger isn't here, she gave us some great advice from last year," said Kara. "She told us for the older to kids to stick to board games. We picked out a lot of those this year."
The Islanders Children's Foundation chipped in to help purchase many of the gifts, but so did the players, who donated more than $4,000 for the toys.
"Billy was telling me how easy it was to collect money from the guys this year," said Kara.
"That's because Doug is here this year," joked Allison.
The presents that were purchased will be distributed by the entire team to various hospitals in the coming weeks throughout Long Island.
"Going to the hospitals is very humbling," said Richard. "It is one of the most enjoyable yet hardest things that we do as a team."
While shopping during the Holiday Season can become a hassle, at least for one day there were all smiles on the faces of the diligent shoppers. Soon, those smiles will move to the faces of the kids, who unfortunately will be bed ridden during the holidays.
"That's what it's all about," said Freddy. "You just want to make a little difference in the lives of these kids. Now that I have a child of my own, it hits home a bit more. We're all looking forward to handing these presents out at the hospitals."Click here
to watch video from last year's Islanders shopping event at Toys 'R' Us.