The San Jose Sharks and the Sharks Foundation once again brought holiday cheer to local families at the annual Healthy Start Holiday Adoption Party held at Sharks Ice at San Jose on Dec. 9.
Each season the Sharks Foundation works with Susie Aldrich (wife of Head Equipment Manager Mike Aldrich) from Healthy Start Family Support Center to identify families from San Jose Unified School District that are unlikely to celebrate the holidays due to financial difficulties. The families complete surveys regarding the clothes and toys on their holiday wish list which are then given to adopters who purchase gifts for the family. Companies all over the area participate.
This year, 39 families were adopted by the Sharks players, coaching staff, owners and front office personnel, who provided clothing, toys, food gift certificates and more.
"This is always an amazing and humbling experience for our team," said Sharks captain Patrick Marleau. "Each of us is so blessed and we realize how important it is to help those in need, especially during the holidays."
The evening began when families had the opportunity to take a holiday portrait with S.J. Sharkie Claus before heading over to lace up a pair of skates and hit the ice. Members of the San Jose Jr. Sharks and Precision Skate Team were on hand to help the novices, as well as Sharks players including Mike Grier and Brian Boucher.
For those who wanted to stay off the ice, an arts and crafts station was set-up overlooking the rink where the children could decorate Christmas cookies, make Holiday Greeting cards and create snowflakes.
As the night continued, families headed up to Stanleys Sports Bar, where a hearty dinner was provided by Outback Steakhouse. Sharks players and staff dined along their adopted families and in total, more than 300 people filled the room.
At the events conclusion, families were escorted by their adopters to the front atrium area of Sharks Ice, where stacks of presents were presented to them. For some families, this may have been the only chance they have to celebrate the holidays.
"This is easily the most meaningful event the Sharks Foundation puts on each year and certainly the one that our players and staff enjoy most," said Laura Johnston, Sharks Foundation Manager. "All you have to do is look at these kids to know what it means to them and certainly to their parents that people took time out of their holidays to spread a little cheer and hope. Its really overwhelming."
As the guests and the players walked gifts out to the families cars, everyone in attendance could agree that the night wouldnt soon be forgotten.