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Sabres give back with return of 'Community Assist' week

by jmaloni

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Fri, Dec 5th 2014 06:20 pm

Players, team officials will take part in a week of community service projects Dec. 8-12

The Buffalo Sabres announced the team will again embark on a weeklong slate of community service projects throughout Buffalo and Western New York. Launched in 2013, the Sabres' "Community Assist" week involves Sabres players and their spouses, coaches, team officials, alumni and fans supporting a variety of community service initiatives and programs throughout the region. This year's "Community Assist" week will take place from Dec. 8-12 and will involve seven different charitable entities from the region.

"Taking a look around this community and recognizing that we can make a very real impact is the core of 'Community Assist' week," Sabres President Ted Black said. "By devoting an entire week to reaching out and giving back to some really important causes in this area, we hope to inspire others to do the same. It is our hope that, even beyond the holiday season, everyone will take a look around their own community and see where they can make a positive impact for those in need."

The schedule of events for Sabres "Community Assist week" is as follows:

Monday, Dec. 8: FUTURE Goals Program School Visit

Sabres players will visit Lorraine Elementary School (Buffalo PS No. 72) to engage with students who are participating in the FUTURE GOALS program, a major new North American digital education initiative that is being launched by the NHL and NHLPA. Through this digital learning education initiative, students will build their science, technology, engineering and math skills using the fast-paced game of hockey as a learning vehicle.

The program is committed to sparking student interest in STEM topics and helping students become college-ready, career-ready and life-ready. The Sabres school visit will be the first of many efforts intended to create awareness for the program and help increase school and student participation of this initiative. Elementary school students across North America will have free access to the FUTURE GOALS curriculum. Together, the NHL and the NHLPA plan to reach 1 million students with this initiative.

Location: Lorraine Elementary School (425 South Park Ave., Buffalo)

Time: 1 p.m.

Expected Player Appearances: Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Torrey Mitchell, Chris Stewart, Mike Weber

Monday, Dec. 8: Summit Academy Visit

Sabres players will visit Summit Academy in Getzville to take part in an art project with some of the autistic students. Players will work hand-in-hand with the students to create artwork that will later be used for a fundraiser during Autism Awareness Month (April). In addition, Sabres employees will participate in a toiletries drive that will benefit some of the school's most needy families who are in need of toiletry essentials this time of year.

Summit Academy, a program of Summit Educational Resources, is a year-round school serving more than 300 Western New York children and young adults, ages 3-21, with autism and other developmental disabilities and delays.

Location: 150 Stahl Rd., Getzville

Time: 1 p.m.

Expected Player Appearances: Patrick Kaleta, Cody McCormick, Drew Stafford and Tyson Strachan

Tuesday, Dec. 9: Sabres' Wives Visit to Ronald McDonald House

Sabres players' wives and girlfriends will be cooking and serving lunch for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Buffalo. The wives will be responsible for setting the menu and preparing and serving the meals for the families who are in from out of town so their child can receive hospital treatment.

Since 1983, the Ronald McDonald House has provided a home away from home for families of seriously ill children who are being treated at local hospitals.

Location: Ronald McDonald House, 780 West Ferry St., Buffalo.

Time: 10:30 a.m. to noon

Tuesday, Dec. 9: Buffalo Sabres Thunder Special Hockey Team Day

The Buffalo Sabres Thunder, part of the American Special Hockey Association, is a team consisting of mentally challenged and developmentally disabled individuals. The team will be invited to First Niagara Center to watch the Sabres vs. Kings game from two luxury suites. Prior to the game, the team will skate at HARBORCENTER's open skate from 5-7 p.m. Sabres alumni also will be on hand.

Proceeds from the skate will benefit the Buffalo Sabres Thunder. Following the game, the team will be invited down to the Sabres locker room to meet with some of the players' heroes.

Wednesday, Dec. 10: Children's Hospital Holiday Party

An annual holiday tradition, the entire Sabres team will make a visit to Children's Hospital to celebrate the season with children in the Stone's Buddies program. Players will be there to spend time with the kids and participate in arts and crafts, as well as cookie decorating and the Children's Hospital tree lighting ceremony.

Stone's Buddies is a program for chronically ill children. Created in memory of former patient Stone Filipovich, the mission of the Stone's Buddies program is to provide a network of resources, support, friendship and fun for the many "frequent flyers" who regularly use Children's Hospital. This program is for children with life-threatening illness, as well as the patients who struggle daily with special needs and feelings of isolation due to the nature of their chronic illness.

Location: Children's Hospital, 219 Bryant St., Buffalo

Time: 1-3:30 p.m. (tree lighting is scheduled for 3 p.m.)

Thursday, Dec. 11: Hillside Family of Agencies

Hillside Family of Agencies is an organization that provides many important services to families and individuals in need. Their foster care program helps match long-term foster children into forever homes with couples who are looking to adopt.

Many foster children they serve are teenagers, who have an especially difficult time of being adopted. These are children who have essentially been left behind by their birth parents and have bounced from one foster home to another. By creating awareness for Hillside and its foster care program, the Sabres hope to shine a light on the need for adoptive parents and have that translate into one or more of these children being adopted.

Children from the program will be invited to the Sabres vs. Flames game, dinner at (716) Food and Sport, and a postgame visit to the Sabres locker room.

Location: First Niagara Center, HARBORCENTER (seat locations for game TBD)

Time: 5-10 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 11: West Seneca Senior Citizens Center Guests of Brian Gionta at Sabres-Flames

Senior citizens from the West Seneca Senior Citizens Center will watch the Sabres-Flames game from Gionta's suite (Suite 76).

Friday, Dec. 12: Bingo at West Seneca Senior Citizens Center

Sabres players and alumni will visit the West Seneca Senior Citizens Center to join the seniors for an afternoon of bingo. Players will team up with the seniors and will also take turns calling out the letter/number combinations and hand out prizes.

Location: 4620 Seneca St., West Seneca

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Expected Player Appearances: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson, Sabres alumni TBD

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