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Hockey Helps Kids initiative sees children helping community

by Meg Tilley / Edmonton Oilers
Jordan Eberle, Chloe and Harrison Katz address the Riverbend Junior High School gymnasium for the launch of Hockey Helps Kids. Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers.

A gymnasium of students eagerly sat in anticipation for the official launch of Hockey Helps Kids at Riverbend Junior High School, Tuesday afternoon.

A new charitable initiative, created by co-founders Chloe and Harrison Katz —children of Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz and his wife Renee — and administered by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF), Hockey Helps Kids will provide junior high school students, in Grade 7-9, the chance to learn about the importance of being active and positive members of their community.

“Kids are so eager to learn, they’ve already been learning about this program in their curriculum,” said Natalie Minckler, Executive Director of the EOCF.

“I think they have such a great opportunity to teach their peers and to teach all of us about giving back to the community and why it is important.”

A friendly community competition that enlists the creative minds of students, four Edmonton schools have been selected and each paired with a player from the Oilers to face off in what’s been dubbed the Charity Cup Challenge.

“We worked with Edmonton Public Schools and selected the schools for this particular year that represent four quadrants of Edmonton,” said Minckler.

“The schools will research and analyze different charitable organizations here in Edmonton, determine which charity they want to support, and then the schools, in conjunction with the charities, will develop a video and a pitch.”

The teams, comprised of the charity and schools, will work together to develop a two-minute video and one-page pitch to promote their team’s charity initiative.

Fans in and around Edmonton will then get to vote on the Hockey Helps Kids website for their favourite charity.

The winning charity will receive $25,000, all three runner-up teams will each receive a $10,000 participation award for their charity, and each school will receive $5,000 for their work on the project.

“So it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Minckler.

Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers.

Riverbend school (Team Eberle) will face-off against A. Blair McPherson (Team Hall), Florence Hallock (Team Nugent-Hopkins) and Killarney (Team McDavid) — to see which team can get the most votes for their charity of choice.

“This is amazing, this opportunity. It warms us to know that teenagers like us can do something so great and help out with the community,” said Suniti, a Grade 9 student on Team Hall.

“I know I speak for Nuge, Hall and McDavid when I say it's quite an honour to be chosen as team captains for something like this,” said Jordan Eberle as he addressed the crowd of youths for the inaugural launch.

The Katz kids set out to explore opportunities to make a difference in the community and decided that there were two things they wanted to focus on: hockey and kids their age.

With that, the foundation of Hockey Helps Kids was born — a new way to raise awareness and funds for a variety of local charities and strengthen the relationship between the Oilers, kids and the community.

“Chloe and Harrison, being their age, it’s pretty impressive,” said Eberle.

“Starting something like this and getting approved to go ahead with it — the Katz family is widely known throughout Edmonton for giving back and being very supportive…. I’m not sure of the charity that we’ve chosen yet, but when you get a young group like this to get their minds on that and start thinking about it at a young age it’s a good thing.”

Fans are encouraged to vote for their favourite team, as well as donate to the causes selected by the teams during the one-month Charity Cup Challenge, which takes place March 2016.

Fan votes will be tallied and the winning team will be announced in April 2016.

To learn more, visit hockeyhelpskids.com.

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