Wednesday night at Sharks Ice at San Jose, Sharks players, coaches and front office staff brightened the holidays for nearly 40 underprivileged local families. A full evening of action, highlighted by a terrific Holiday meal compliments of Outback Steakhouse, festive music, a skating party including a visit from Santa Sharkie and presents under the Christmas tree rounded out the night.
Click here to see pictures from the event (PICS
All Sharks participants are partnered up with a family provided by Healthy Start Family Support Center who supplies a list of suggested items to put under the Christmas tree for each family. Sharks players then do the shopping and wrapping, then deliver the goods in time for the special evening.
“Normally, I take it upon myself to shop for my family,” said Milan Michalek. “But this year, with us being on the road last week, my girlfriend had to do most of it. She did a great job and should make our family happy.”
Assistance at the skate was provided by members of the San Jose Jr. Sharks and the Golden State Synchronized Skating Team, who helped those new to the ice navigate the slippery surface. While most Sharks players took to the ice in street shoes with their familes, they all rolled up the sleeves in helping anyone who need their skates tied up.
“This is really the event that we get the most out of,” said Steve Bernier of the annual party. “It is a lot of fun for everybody and we get to make a difference in the lives of our adopted families.”
While this event has been a staple at the Holidays for the Sharks for a long time, similar teams conduct the same type of party.
“We did something like this in Montreal,” added Craig Rivet. “One difference was we didn’t have to help as many people on the ice! This is really a special evening, not only for the adopted families, but for our organization as well. It really makes you appreciate what you have and how fortunate we are to be playing a game for a living.”
The Healthy Start Family Support Center is a partnership of schools and community agencies providing direct and referral services to the children and their families of the San Jose Unified School District. Its mission is to provide culturally sensitive, and easily accessible, integrated health and human services to low-income children and families in order to improve their outcomes in the areas of education, health, and family function.
The primary activities and services include a medical clinic open five days a week, counseling services, provision of food and clothing, health insurance enrollment, health related activities for school staff, students, and families, Christmas program for families, and referral services to numerous community agencies. All services are free with the exception of the medical clinic, which is based on a sliding scale or provider for Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and Healthy Kids.
The San Jose Unified Healthy Start Family Support Center has a staff of 3 - a program coordinator and 2 bilingual program assistants. Healthy Start is open Monday through Friday from 8 - 4:30 pm.
Examples of current services/activities
•Family Harvest Food Program – once a month at 4 different sites – partner with Second Harvest Food Bank
• Health Fairs at school sites – partner with numerous community agencies
•Gift of Sight Day – Free vision services for students – partner with Lenscrafter
•Adopt A Family Holiday Program – partner with the San Jose Sharks and Booksin Elementary School
•Walk to School Events – partner with SCC Public Health Department Traffic Safe Communities Network
•Parent Nutrition Education Classes – partner with UC Cooperative Extension
•Planning and Implementing School Garden – partner with UC Cooperative Extension and Kaiser Santa Clara
•Health Insurance Enrollment for Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and Healthy Kids
•Counseling Services at school sites – partner with Process Therapy Institute of Los Gatos
•Nutrition Decathlon – Education on nutrition and physical activity for students at numerous school sites – partner with American Cancer Society, UC Cooperative Extension, and San Jose State University
•Numerous referrals to community agencies made on a daily basis for the families of San Jose Unified School District