EVELETH — What began as an effort to give back this holiday season became the chance of a lifetime for some for the Eveleth-Gilbert U12 girls’ hockey team.
Consisting of players from Eveleth-Gilbert, Virginia and Mesabi East, the Golden Bears wrote out hundreds of letters as part of the American Red Cross’ Mail for Heroes program that allows citizens to send mail to veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces around the world.
In addition, the team is partnering with the Red Cross for a blood drive this coming Wednesday at the Eveleth Auditorium.
There their community outreach, the Golden Bears got the chance to head down to Duluth recently and skate with members of the UMD women’s hockey team at Amsoil Arena.
Lyle Johnson, head coach for the U12 Golden Bears, says all facets of the project from the card writing to getting to meet the Bulldogs was a great experience for his team.
“The girls were really excited to do a project like this,” Johnson said. “The cards for our veterans were sent out around Christmas time and they really enjoyed getting to write them and send them out to those that serve us. It’s a great way for them to give back to those who have given so much for us.”
“You hope the girls see it as we adults do. We want to be able to thank them for the job that they do.”
The Red Cross has a close relationship with UMD, and when the Red Cross saw the effort the team put in, the skating session with the Bulldogs quickly became a reality for the team.
“The Bulldogs approached us and we knew right away the girls would really love something like that. I think it was a neat experience for them. For some girls, it might even be a dream.
We got to skate around with a few members of the team and then a couple of them spoke to the girls. It was all just great to see for our girls. Hopefully it gets them excited to work harder on the ice.”
In continued work with the Red Cross, the Bears are helping get the word out on an upcoming blood drive in Eveleth.
The blood drive is scheduled for next Wednesday from 12-6 p.m. at the Eveleth Auditorium and Johnson says the Red Cross is still looking for more people to sign up to donate.
“They’re always looking for more people to donate and they need people to come out and help. The blood drive is a new thing for us and the girls. They can’t donate now but I’m sure many of them will be motivated to in the future when they can. We want to try and help the community as much as we can so teaming up for something like this just seemed like a fantastic idea.”
Those interested in donating can go to www.redcrossblood.org/give. From there, enter the Eveleth zip code (55734) and select an available time.