Fifteen children from Cottage Cove Urban Ministries got on a bus on Monday afternoon for a “field trip.” Safe to say it was quite a surprise when they arrived at Walmart and saw plenty of Preds Gold waiting at the entrance.
With the help of AT&T and the Nashville Predators Foundation, the kids had free reign of the toy aisles inside, but they weren’t selecting Christmas gifts for themselves; rather, they carried shopping lists in hand for their friends back at Cottage Cove. Gnash, Ryan Ellis, Eric Nystrom, Stu Grimson and Preds players’ girlfriends were among those there to assist in the perusing and purchasing.
“It was a blast,” Nystrom said of the trip. “To have an opportunity to come out here with the kids and shop for some toys, see them smile and have fun, that’s what makes it all worth it.”
The children, age’s six to eight, were split up into groups, receiving assistance from the Preds. Every student had $50 to spend on each of their friends, plenty to spread some holiday cheer.
“We had a budget and we were going a little nuts there for a little bit,” Nystrom said. “We had to take it down a notch, but I think we got a lot of great gifts and the kids seem really happy.”
It was evident the kids were happy, as were those in charge of spreading the message of giving at this time of year.
“Thank you to the Nashville Predators, thank you AT&T, thank you Gnash…so many people came together to make this happen, and we can’t tell you how grateful we are,” Connections Coordinator for Cottage Cove Joseph Bican said. “We’re about to get the best Christmas gifts for each other that we have ever had a chance to get.”
Everything from footballs to action figures, dolls and Legos, even a bike and an air hockey table made it into the carts before all was said and done. Once the choices were made, it was off to the registers to cash in before sending the gifts back to Cottage Cove to be wrapped.
It didn’t seem to matter that the children weren’t doing the shopping for themselves. Ultimately, it’s the giving spirit that is instilled at Cottage Cove, and those taking part seemed to take notice.
“They’re shopping for each other, but I don’t think they really even cared about that,” Nystrom said. “It’s about giving to your friends and sharing, and I think the kids had a good understanding of that.”
And while the students were delighted, a Preds defenseman enjoyed playing a small role in the holiday festivities just as much as the youngsters.
“It brought back some memories as a kid, just opening gifts and seeing the different options out there,” Ellis said. “They picked out some pretty cool gifts, and I hope they’re all excited.
“We just got back from a big road trip, but it takes your mind away from hockey a little bit. The Christmas cheer in each kid was evident and it was a lot of fun.”