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Northumberland, Valley female hockey teams collecting items to cheer those in need

Valley Wild coach Luke McCarthy, left, and Fundy Highland Subway Selects Bantam AA coach Bryan Smith, right, look on as Caelyn Parker and Ava Gennoe shake on the challenge of filling a hockey bag with personal items for charity before Christmas.
Valley Wild coach Luke McCarthy, left, and Fundy Highland Subway Selects Bantam AA coach Bryan Smith, right, look on as Caelyn Parker and Ava Gennoe shake on the challenge of filling a hockey bag with personal items for charity before Christmas.

Naomi Society, Fill a Box with Cheer to benefit from players' off-ice efforts

NEW GLASGOW, N.S. - Stellarton’s Ava Gennoe and South Berwick’s Caelyn Parker are usually hockey rivals, but they and their teammates are teaming up to collect toiletries and personal items for people in their communities who may need them.

Ava was quick to respond when Caelyn challenged her to have the Selects fill a hockey bag with toiletries before Christmas.

“I was sure my team would be willing so we talked to the coach and he said it was a great idea so we’re going to do it,” said Ava.

The Selects are made up of players from Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties and will be donating the items they collect to the Naomi Society while Caelyn’s team will be donating to a local program called Fill a Box with Cheer.

“We’re calling our campaign Fill a Hockey Bag with Cheer and we are starting with a tournament this weekend,” said Ava.

They will have a hockey bag available for donations when the Subway Cup kicks off Friday at the Pictou Arena and they’ll be toting it back and forth between games there and at the Wellness Centre until the tournament ends Sunday. The bag will be at all the team’s home games and they are inviting other Selects teams to contribute.

Caelyn and Ava spend the fall and winter playing against each other, as recently as last weekend at the Wellness Centre, but they developed a friendship playing spring hockey together.

“I knew Ava and her team would be willing if I challenged them. With them helping, it will mean more items for families or individuals who need them,” said Caelyn.

The campaign has the full support of Valley coach Luke McCarthy who was also one of Ava’s coaches during the spring program, and Bryan Smith of Antigonish who coaches the Selects.

“Caelyn is very community-minded, always thinking of ways to help so I wasn’t surprised when she came up with this idea,” said McCarthy.

Smith said he likes to incorporate some community involvement into the teams he coaches.

“I always think my job as coach is to develop the player and the person. There is more to it than just the hockey side of things so this is a great fit for how I see the girls. They are community-minded and I know they’ll do a good job.”

Caelyn’s father, Shannon Parker, said he is pleased to see the Selects pick up his daughter’s challenge.

“The more they can collect, the better. It will all be put to good use.”

Ava’s mother, Tonya Gennoe, said Ava’s team hosted provincials last year provincials and got a lot of community support.

“It was a big undertaking and we got great support from the counties so this is a way for the girls to see the importance of giving something back to the community. I see it as a way of encouraging leadership and volunteerism and I think they will have fun, as well as providing needed items.”

What to donate: The team is collecting toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, shampoo, soap, tissues, razors, feminine hygiene products as well as socks, slippers, mitts, gloves, scarves, pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, adult colouring books, mugs, tea, coffee, puzzle books, playing cards, gum and candy. They will also accept monetary donations which will be used to purchase gift cards.

When to donate: The Bantam AA Subway Selects will be collecting at their games at the Wellness Centre and Pictou Arena during the Subway Cup tournament Oct. 27 to 29.  Or contact Tona Gennoe at tonyagennoe@bellaliant.net. 

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