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Andreychuk Leads the C.H.A.R.G.E.

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Dave Andreychuk went through an intense workout this past Tuesday morning.

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However, arguably the most famous captain in Lightning history isn’t contemplating a return to the ice any time soon. Instead, Andreychuk took on a familiar role by donning the “C” for a second time with the organization, but this time to lead approximately 20 Lightning and St. Pete Times Forum employees to perform community service at The Children’s Home, which provides a safe haven for kids who have suffered abuse, neglect or abandonment.

“It was terrific to get out into the community and really make a difference in the lives of those in need,” Andreychuk said. “These kids deal with a lot every day, and to no fault of their own, so anything we can do as an organization to reach out and help them always puts a smile on our faces, and hopefully on theirs too.”

Tuesday’s community service project, creatively dubbed “Extreme Makeover: The Children’s Home Edition”, officially kicked off the Lightning’s C.H.A.R.G.E initiative for 2011, which was unveiled by owner Jeff Vinik earlier this year when it was announced that employees of the St. Pete Times Forum would collectively perform 4,000 hours of community service per year. The program, an acronym for Contributing Hours Across our Region through Generous Employees, aims to lead by example and to inspire others. Each month, the Lightning will sponsor a volunteer event in the community to demonstrate the importance of giving back.

The urgency as well as the willingness to give back was certainly apparent on Tuesday morning of all days when pouring rain and severe thunderstorms served as no hindrance to putting in approximately three hours of physical labor, all to benefit to the children who lived at the residence.

With the kids away for a few days, the time called for the perfect opportunity for the Lightning to get to work and provide a pleasant surprise for the children as they returned to the campus just a few days later. With many of the kids’ rooms in poor condition, Lightning employees wasted no time in grabbing saws, hammers and electric power tools to improve the living arrangements as Andreychuk himself sanded down wooden bed frames, while others helped repair woodwork, install cabinets and paint walls. All in all, it was a great way to serve the community and utilize an exercise in team building all at once.

“We were proud to again partner with the Children’s Home in support of their great kids,” said Kasey Smith, executive director of the Lightning Foundation. “It truly was an impactful project and we hope our few hours of work will help to put smiles on the faces of the children when they return from camp, a similar sentiment felt by all of our employees who were out to volunteer today.”

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