Hockey teams give back during the holiday season



By Tammy Schneider

Two Kincardine hockey teams have joined forces off the ice to offer support to Ronald McDonald House in London. Members of the Bantam Local League 1 Scotiabank and the Atom Rep Canadian Tire teams have been collecting toys, slippers, gift cards, hygiene articles and other items that were shipped to London on Dec. 14.


Jen Edwards, mother to players Blake and Colton, saw first-hand the importance of the facility back in 2005, when son Blake was in London Sick Kids Hospital after being born prematurely. While the family didn’t need a residence in town, they did have the opportunity to tour Ronald McDonald House, and were impressed with facility and the comfort it offered to guests.


A few weeks ago, Edwards was having coffee at the Kincardine McDonalds when she saw the signage describing the restaurant’s own drive, and put it out to hockey parents to see if they would be willing to help support the toy and gift collection. Close to $1,000 in gifts and gift cards were collected, that will be distributed by Ronald McDonald Charities to make sure that on Christmas Day, all families and children in the hospital receive a present.


“At Ronald McDonald House, everyone gets a present that is staying at the house,” said Edwards. She also said that since starting the toy drive, she has learned that other parents on the team have stayed there while their children were in hospital.


Lynn Reilly, who works at McDonalds in Kincardine, has her own special connection to Ronald McDonald House. She is the long-time organizer behind McHappy Day, so was already familiar with the workings of the facility.


“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” said Reilly. “It really is. I’ve had the privilege of going down for a tour. You don’t worry about meals or anything. It’s a home away from home.”


Eighteen months ago, Reilly’s granddaughter Kathryn was diagnosed with leukemia. The family has lived at the house off and on since then, and are currently staying there as their daughter undergoes treatment.


Reilly, who is the recipient of McDonalds Volunteer of the Year Award for her efforts in organizing McHappy Day, reached out to RMH to find out what they were most in need of, and was sent a wish list of items. Through word-of-mouth, the boxes she had set up in the restaurant began filling with gifts. She estimates there was up to $3,000 worth of items delivered in time for the holidays. Items donated after the 14th are still being accepted, and she will make a special trip to London to get them there in time for Christmas.