This youth hockey team left the Durham community speechless with their ‘soup-er’ donation to the local food bank

Crusader U13 hockey team raised more than 93,500 food donations and 1,500 cans of soup for their local food bank during the COVID-19 pandemic

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A youth hockey team in Durham Region spent the winter raising cans of soup for charity by playing video games, creating a ripple effect within the community.

The Durham Crusaders competed for the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, a program that challenges players to make a difference in their communities. This year, the competition looked different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams had to come up with a unique idea in which they can participate together but take part individually.

The Crusaders, aged 12 and 13, started a project called I play for soup. For every hour that they spend time playing video games, they donate a can of soup to Feed the Need in Durham, which supports 62 local emergency food providers.

“I was excited just to give back, help out our community and just help others in need,” said Cato Joseph, player No. 9.

The team created a video for submission entry for the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup and posted it on social media platforms. Soon the Town of Whitby and the rest of the Durham community started encouraging them with this project. The video was shared on Twitter and received more than 9,500 views.

Despite not winning the Chevrolet Cup, the team won the hearts by raising more than 1,500 soup cans. They also raised more than 93,768 other food donations and $1,265 cash donations.

Anonymous donations are still being left at the doorsteps of players and parents continue to participate by carrying all the donations to the chosen charity for the project which is Feed the Need in Durham.

“It would be very good to continue, to help the community, even though we are out of the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, this is still very great to do,” said Teague Russell, player No. 23.

Huge support by organizations

The team’s efforts also caught the attention of soup maker Campbell Company of Canada and they donated 93,660 packages of goldfish crackers, five tractor-trailers. The largest one-time donation Feed the Need in Durham received.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” Robyn McKibbon, Feed the Need’s community engagement co-ordinator, said in a Zoom interview. “When we see the youth and the kids get together to come up with something creative to help get back to the community, it makes us proud.”

The Campbell Company of Canada brought in 227 skids to the Feed the Need warehouse.

Working as a team

During the pandemic, the project provided a way for the young players to connect, work as a team, make friends and learn life lessons off the ice.

Hockey parent George Foltak said the project inspired people as far away as British Columbia to donate to their local food banks.

“Sometimes you need a game to get away, to have free time, but with all the COVID-19 pandemic there is a lot of stress and pressure throughout our environment so we just want to look on the bright side on things we can do,” said his son Roger, No. 12.

The player’s mother and team trainer proposed the idea

Karolina Baker, mother to player No. 4, Axel Baker, was the campaign’s driving force.

Baker reached out to coach Paul Rowe with the idea, then rallied all team players by email. By the end of the day, almost everyone said they were in and the video was shot within the upcoming week.

“Twelve and 13-year-olds can get sassy at times and I have one, so I know you can’t make them do anything that they didn’t want to do, but they were the ones asking their parents to drop the cans off at my place. It was only the second week where I had 400 cans in my hallway,” Baker said.

“I was really surprised when people kept on donating. We had like 300 pounds on the first week,” Axel added.

Rowe, who has been coaching the team for 12 years, said he embraced the idea right away.

“Being middle class in Whitby, compared to the rest of the world, we are wealthy but they don’t see it that way because they don’t have anything to compare it to,” he said. “This has been a huge help because we are not sending this to the other side of the world. These are people in Oshawa or your next door neighbors that don’t have enough to eat.”

His son Jacob, who is on the team, said the campaign made him feel grateful.

“I’m so happy that it got so popular and people can do the same thing that we did,” said Jacob, player No. 16.

A community effort

Whitby, Ont., is a town with a strong hockey tradition, with some of its players going on to participate in the NHL.

Two of Whitby’s councillors, Maleeha Shahid and Elizabeth Roy, picked up on the team’s efforts and promoted them on social media.

“Their sportsmanship and unity towards a good deed makes all of us proud here, it’s a brilliant idea keeping themselves active and also doing community service, I commend their parents for raising such caring young individuals,” Shahid said.

The campaign also provided a learning opportunity for the players.

“The main lesson to all of this would be to be selfless, to not be selfish because if you’re selfish, it might carry through all your life and it might impact others and you,” said Aidan King player No. 97.

Thelma Giotis, whose son, William, is No.98, said that this initiative opened up a conversation in her family about how to make a difference.

“With us as a family what we took on is that when we go grocery shopping, most grocery stores have a food bank donation area and to always buy that little bit extra even if this initiative stops, as a family we can take it on and remember,” said Giotis, who helped promote the effort on social media.

“It felt good to donate, you have more of a reason to play games and you are still doing something good for the community,” William said.

About this article

Posted: Apr 21 2021 2:48 pm
Filed under: Community COVID-19 Features Hockey News