Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.
The Florida Panthers teamed up with the Jason Taylor Foundation once again this past weekend, as defensemen Keith Yandle and Mark Pysyk volunteered to be celebrity shoppers at the foundation's 13th annual Cool Gear for the School Year event.
With the help of numerous local athletes and media personalities, the event paired 60 underserved children from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties with their very own celebrity shopping buddies for a special back-to-school shopping experience at Old Navy in Davie, Fla.
"It was great," Yandle said. "It was an awesome time, especially running through the aisles, getting clothes for the kids. I ran into [Dolphins defensive linemen] Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake and, obviously, Jason Taylor. It was a pretty cool experience. I had to show those guys my strength."
"It was really cool," added Pysyk. "I've never been a part of something like this, where kids get to go and shop and pick everything they want. It was a lot of fun. There are a lot of big names out here, and also me and Yands. We had a lot of fun today."
With each child being allotted $300 to spend on back to school gear, Yandle and Pysyk spent the majority of the event carrying overflowing shopping bags, calculating costs and maneuvering through jam-packed aisles.
When it came to fashion advice, however, both defensemen admitted to being rather unhelpful.
"My girl Jasmine that I was with said 'Yeah, you can pick out a shirt here for me,'" Pysyk said, laughing. "I picked out one but then she made up an excuse and just said 'Uh, let's go look somewhere else in the store.'"
It was worth a shot, Mark.
Since 2005, the Cool Gear for the School Year event has provided more than $200,000 in clothing to nearly 700 deserving local children, according to the foundation's official website.
This past season, the Florida Panthers Foundation Community Champions Grant Program, presented by Moss Construction and the Moss Foundation, awarded $25,000 to the Jason Taylor Foundation, with the majority of the donation going to support the Louder Than A Bomb Florida Poetry Festival.
Under the leadership of Panthers owners Vincent J. Viola and Douglas A. Cifu, the Community Champions program is committing more than $5 million over five years to charitable organizations throughout South Florida.
If you are interested in becoming one of our champions during the upcoming season -- the second since the program launched in 2016-17 -- you can apply HERE.
#ONETERRITORY TEASED AT FAU GAME
What's #OneTerritory? You'll know soon enough. The Panthers teased their new marketing campaign for the upcoming 2017-18 season during college football's opening weekend, flying a banner over the FAU-Navy game in Boca Raton on Friday.
The banner read "#OneTerritory. Go FAU Beat Navy."
For the full story, make sure to check out Tim Reynold's AP feature.
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
It might be the offseason, but the Panthers are always active in the community.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- We've signed veteran forward Harry Zolnierczyk to a professional tryout (PTO).
-- We've also signed former Panthers forward Brandon Pirri to a PTO as well.
-- How's Shawn Thornton settling into his new life as our VP of Business Operations? ESPN.com's Emily Kaplan recently sat down with the former NHL enforcer to find out.
-- We recently teamed up with longtime community partner Harvest Drive to pack donated food at the BB&T Center for needy families in Broward County.
"We couldn't do it without [the Panthers]," said Renee Herman, Harvest Drive's founder. "We have some great community sponsors and people that help us, but the Florida Panthers have always been right there in a minutes notice for us."
-- Single-game tickets are on sale now!