The festive spirit was alive and well within the Edmonton Oilers in early December as the entire team enjoyed the second annual Christmas luncheon with students and staff of Inner City High School (ICHS). Funded in large part by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF), ICHS is getting ever-closer to the ground-breaking for a new school and student residence, and the luncheon provided the opportunity for players and students to mingle before the holidays.
After a brief presentation made to the players by the students, everyone filled their plates at the buffet and then mingled while enjoying the hot and filling meal. A few students showcased their musical talents by playing acoustic guitar, while others roamed the room to gather autographs. In addition to meeting all the Oilers, the students received holiday gift bags from the EOCF.
According to Oilers Captain Ethan Moreau, the visit was an important one for both parties. “I think it’s important for the kids to see the players once in a while. It gives that connection between the team and our foundation and what we’re trying to do in the community,” he explained. “And it’s good for the guys to see that when we do charitable events, a lot of the money is going to the Foundation to build Inner City High School. I think it’s important for the players to see how it’s going to impact real people and real kids.”
EOCF Executive Director Natalie Minckler agreed wholeheartedly. “I think the kids truly appreciate having the entire team here. We do a lot of things over the holidays and throughout the course of the season, but we have very, very few full team appearances,” she said. “Having a luncheon down here with the kids I think really helps our players get down to it, spend some time with the kids, understand what they’re all about, understand some of the issues that they have, some of the needs that they have.”
“We don’t get a lot of time to come down here, and our players don’t get a lot of time to come down here, but it’s important to see the kids and spread a little bit of good will and good cheer before the holidays.”
ICHS Principal and Director of Inner City Youth Development Joe Cloutier said the visit is a highlight of the year for many students. “It’s really something special for the young people. After the team left last year, one of the students came up and said ‘You know, I never thought the Oilers would care about people like us.’ It’s a real boost for them.”
For more information on the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, please visit http://www.oilersfoundation.ca