(Edmonton, AB) - More than 1,300 enthusiastic junior high students cheered on as the buzzer sounded and Hockey Helps Kids officially launched the fourth annual Charity Cup Challenge voting period (January 21 - February 19). Hockey Helps Kids, co-founded by Chloe and Harrison Katz, is a fun and innovative charity competition, which brings together local schools, charities and the Edmonton Oilers to raise awareness and funds for a variety of local non-profit organizations.
For the 2018-19 season, four local schools and their chosen charities teamed up with four Oilers players acting as Hockey Helps Kids team captains:
- Team Draisaitl - S. Bruce Smith School / The CASA Foundation
- Team Lucic - Ecole Dickinsfield School / Kids with Cancer Society
- Team McDavid - Hilwie Hamdon School / The Mustard Seed
- Team Nugent-Hopkins - Sister Annata Brockman / Autism Edmonton
Each team created a video and campaign to promote their cause. The four teams will compete for the fourth annual Hockey Helps Kids Charity Cup from January 21 until February 19. Fans can view the videos online and vote for their favourite team during that period. The team with the most votes at the end of the Charity Cup Challenge will win $25,000 for their designated charity and the three runners-up will receive $10,000 each for their local charities.
Hockey Helps Kids is funded by the Katz family and administered by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF). The Foundation helps connect the Katz children with local Edmonton junior high schools and four Oilers players, for each school to learn about community service and giving back.
"Today is the first time we get to see the videos from each team, but students have been working on these projects since the beginning of the school year," said Harrison Katz. "The voting launch is my favourite part of the Hockey Helps Kids initiative because it's when we get to celebrate the students and their projects and showcase their creativity and dedication."
Hockey Helps Kids complements and expands upon each schools' existing leadership curriculum, encouraging students to gain hands-on experience in fundraising to support local charities and learning the importance of being active members of their community to help make it a better place for others.
Lynne Spencer, a teacher at S. Bruce Smith, believes the Hockey Helps Kids program has been an excellent experience for her students and staff. "Students have learned about social issues and local charities as well as how to engage in conversations with adults about things that are important to them. I believe our students have felt empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. They are seeing that their passions can be turned into action and the result is a positive school culture of caring and respect. It has been a pleasure to work through the Hockey Helps Kids curriculum with our students and to learn more about CASA. We feel the growing excitement as we prepare to come together to see the video released to the public and the voting process begin. Thank you for this opportunity!"
All four Hockey Helps Kids Team Captains - Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid - participated in classroom visits to collaborate with students and learn about their team's project and charity, creating very interactive and personal experiences at each school. The players act as role models for students and inspire them with their own stories of giving back to their communities.
"As much as we motivate the students, they are also really inspiring to us. They have so much drive and passion for the causes and their communities," said Oilers forward and Hockey Helps Kids Team Captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "It's been great to be a part of this experience with students at Sister Annata Brockman School. I'm so impressed by their video and the work all the other schools have already done, and the competition is really just getting started."
Past Hockey Helps Kids Charity Cup winners include Team McDavid and Killarney School, who won $25,000 for the Zebra Child Protection Centre in 2015-16. Team Nugent-Hopkins won back-to-back seasons with Father Michael Troy School, who captured the Hockey Helps Kids Charity Cup in 2016-17, earning $25,000 for Sport Central and Mary Butterworth School winning $25,000 for the Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society last season.
"Each year I am amazed by the creativity of the students who participate in Hockey Helps Kids. They keep finding new ways to promote their charities and spread the word about the Charity Cup Challenge," said Chloe Katz. "Last season, a total of 95,526 votes were cast within the one-month voting window, and I know this year will be bigger and better than ever. Make sure you check out these students' hard work and vote!"
To watch the videos and vote, visit HockeyHelpsKids.com.