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Oilers get crafty for Valentine's Day

by Kelli Gustafson / Edmonton Oilers

Although red, white and pink Valentine hearts decorated the dining room at the Ronald McDonald House on Friday, it was Orange and Blue that overflowed the room.

On Friday, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) and the Oilers Ladies hosted their second annual Valentine’s arts and crafts day at the Ronald McDonald Charities Northern Alberta (RMHCNA) in Edmonton. However, this year marks the first year that some of the players also joined in on the festivities.

Prior to the players’ arrival, the families at the house were buzzing with excitement as they prepared the crafts tables, proudly sporting their Oilers attire.

Photo by Andy Devlin.

“This is awesome, it definitely helps break up the day,” said Sheri Raike, a current resident at RMHCNA. “It helps give a little bit of joy in our day. Sometimes our days get very full with medical and what-not.”

From sparkles to sprinkles, the players and Oilers Ladies did not hesitate to get crafting with the kids upon their arrival, while they visited with the families currently staying at the house.

“Just to see the smiles on their faces—it means so much to us, and to them and their families,” said Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot, eyes gleaming. “It’s really rewarding to be here and to try to make a big difference in their lives right now.”

While Talbot was spotted decorating cookies, defenceman Adam Clendening took to the puppet-making station, while Eric Gryba tried his hand at colouring.

Kids beamed with joy, going from table to table, as they showed the players the Valentine’s cards and cookies they had made.

“I decorated a couple cookies [too],” added Gryba. “I wouldn’t say they’re perfect by any means, but I’m guessing they’ll taste pretty good,” laughed the 6-foot-4 defenceman.

The RMHCNA is a non-profit organization that offers affordable accommodations for out-of-town families of children undergoing medical treatment in Edmonton. The house boasts 32 private family suites, acting as a home-away-from-home for families in need.

“We love having groups like the Edmonton Oilers come into the house because it gives everyone some joy to their day,” added Suzanne Pescod, Director of Communications for RMHCNA.

“Days can be really long when families are spending them in hospital, and on a day like today, especially on a Friday before the Family Day long weekend, it’s a great way to bring everyone in the house together.”

Photo by Andy Devlin.

Despite the difficult situations the families at the house are facing, only smiles filled the room as players signed shirts, took pictures and frosted cookies.

“They have 32 families here, and it’s always full. So it’s nice to have an event like this, where you can just bring some normalcy and joy to everyone,” said Oilers Lady Lauren Rodych.

The Oilers Ladies work closely with the EOCF, with a common goal to give back to the community that they call home. Even if it was for just one afternoon of colouring and cookie decorating, it was a day that will not soon be forgotten by both the deserving families and children at RMHCNA, as well as the players.

“It’s really important for the Oilers ladies to get involved in anything we can,” said Rodych. “None of us are from Edmonton, but we’ve made it our home, so it’s really nice to be able to get involved and help where we can, and just appreciate the city.”

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