Isles open doors to raise funds, spirits in wake of Sandy
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
UNIONDALE, NY – The New York Islanders opened up the Nassau Coliseum ice to fans Monday afternoon in an effort to raise funds, and spirits, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The Islanders held an open skate at the Coliseum for fans, asking anyone who attended to bring donations of money, clothes or non-perishable food for victims of Hurricane Sandy. More than 2,000 people showed their support with donations for the American Red Cross and Island Harvest.
“I’m so proud of fellow Long Islanders for stepping up and making this type of contribution,” said Craig Cooper, spokesperson for the Red Cross. “It shows that we’re a great community. It shows that people care and it really shows that the Islanders care. … I think we have a unique community here and it’s great to know that the Islanders are really in support of the Red Cross right now.”
Hurricane Sandy struck the tri-state area two weeks ago, devastating many homes across the region and leaving nearly a million people on Long Island without power. Organizations such as the Red Cross and Island Harvest have been working to help aid victims of the storm on Long Island and throughout the area. Cooper said that the Red Cross has one of the largest deployments they’ve had in the last five years on Long Island. “Every single vehicle in our fleet is here,” he said.
During the six hour event, members of the Islanders management and coaching staff were on hand as well, along with the team mascot, Sparky, and the Islander Ice Girls. Head coach Jack Capuano, general manager Garth snow and several others were on the ice, skating with fans.
“The turnout has been real good,” Capunano said about the fundraiser. “People are really donating whatever donation it is, whether it’s food or clothing, it’s going to go along way for those people who lost a lot. Thoughts and prayers are still with those people and what we’re doing here today is great.”
Assistant coach Doug Weight was equally as pleased with the turnout and the ability to help the victims of the storm.
“It’s a good day,” he said. “Something small like this can bring a lot of smiles and hopefully bring a lot of warmth and food and other important things while (people) go through the hard times.”
Both Capuano and Weight have seen first had the devastation across Long Island. Capuano visited his old residence in Point Lookout on Long Beach, while Weight has had to deal with debris left behind from the storm.
“We were cutting down trees for two full days in just a 600 yard area,” Weight said. “I can’t imagine the people on the shore. I have some friends down there and it’s sad, but we’ll get through it and come together. They say adversity makes you stronger and we’ve had some adverse conditions here and hopefully everyone gets their lives back to normalcy.”
Cooper said that the Red Cross has seen an “outpouring of support” since the storm and was very thankful for the Islanders effort to help.
“I think it’s exciting to know that even without any hockey being played right now, the club itself, the organization, the management, the coaches have stepped up,” he said. “This has just been a fantastic demonstration of that community interest.”
The Islanders aren’t through with fundraising for the American Red Cross either. The team announced a special charity auction with prizes ranging from sports tickets and memorabilia to concert tickets. All the proceeds will be going to the American Red Cross. The auction runs from Nov. 13-20.