The Sharks Foundation celebrates heroes of all kinds each January and this year Heroes Appreciation Month took on a whole new meaning. Without any games to be played in San Jose, there was no Heroes Appreciation Night to honor the many deserving individuals that have supported the community during 2020. Instead, the Foundation highlighted everyday heroes throughout the month in a social media campaign.
From Make-A-Wish recipients to San Jose Firefighters to survivors of COVID-19 and the medical teams from Kaiser Permanente that served them, so many were deserving of recognition during this unprecedented year. Nominations for highlights also came from Canine Companions for Independence, Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley, United Heroes League and Sharks fans. A few of these highlights included a member of the Air Force, Senior Airman Precious Lacy and Sharks Wish recipient from 2020, Selena Urban.
With the start of the 2020-21 season, the Goals for Kids program has returned! Each goal scored by the San Jose Sharks during the season benefits local organizations dedicated to enhancing the lives of those in need - with an emphasis on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. Thanks to the program's Presenting Partners, Taube Philanthropies and Western Digital & Participating Sponsors Druva, The Sobrato Organization and SWENSON, $1,000 will be donated to beneficiaries for every Sharks goal throughout the season! This year's eight non-profit beneficiaries are: SheIS, You Can Play, One Step Beyond, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, 10,000 Degrees, YWCA Silicon Valley and Bay Scholars.
New this season, the Sharks Foundation teamed up with the San Jose Barracuda to host a Used Stick Auction. The auction included autographed sticks from current and former 'Cuda players and raised $2,000 for beneficiary NPower, a non-profit that creates pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans. Later in the campaign, the Sharks collaborated with San Jose Firefighters on a one-of-a-kind t-shirt in support of the San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation, which provides educational and financial resources in treatment and care for burn survivors and their families. Sales through SJ Team Shop helped generate $12,500 for the non-profit. At the conclusion of the month, the Foundation hosted a Military Appreciation Auction benefiting United Heroes League (UHL), a non-profit dedicated to ensuring children of military members have the opportunity to play sports. Military-themed Sharks items helped net $6,000 for UHL.
January also saw the launch of the Teal for Change Council, a group comprised of members from the Sharks organization's front office staff focused on expanding support for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Established in June, the group has spent the past several months working with senior leadership to develop ways that the organization can use their platform to encourage positive change internally, in the sport of hockey and throughout the Bay Area community. Since its formation, Teal for Change has spearheaded multiple initiatives, which include:
- A Voter Engagement campaign in partnership with the California Secretary of State's Office, the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters and SAP which included hosting two Ballot Drop Boxes at SAP Center and a Town Hall with the Secretary of State.
- An updated dress-code and appearance policy for SAP Center event staff, which is more reflective of our belief in diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
- A monthly educational series on diversity and inclusion, which includes moderated small-group discussions
- A comprehensive diversity and inclusion calendar featuring 200+ events of significance, including recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18 and Juneteenth on June 19 as paid holidays.
- An updated Jr. Sharks Code of Conduct to help foster a better understanding and responsibility for youth athletes and make hockey a sport that is more welcoming to all.
With the help of Sharks Territory, the Sharks Foundation was able to commit $20,500 to non-profits and impact the lives of 263 individuals during it's Heroes Appreciation Campaign.