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Lightning Strikes in Tampa Bay Community During the Holidays

Tuesday, 12.24.2013 / 12:21 PM / Features
By Missy Zielinski  - Lightning Beat Reporter

This holiday season the Tampa Bay Lightning touched the community in a number of ways, from visits and contributions by Bolts teammates to Lightning employees getting hands-on in spreading some cheer.

"In an effort to reach as many families as possible this holiday season, the Lightning have seen great growth in the ways they have been able to give back to their community," Kasey Smith, senior director of community relations, said. "Led by the support of Mr. and Mrs. Vinik and their vision of being a constant help to the community, we aim in our own small way to give time and treasures in hopes that it adds up to make a big difference."

SALVATION ARMY RED KETTLE CAMPAIGN

FIRST ever time the Tampa Bay Lightning joined forces with the SALVATION ARMY and their RED KETTLE CAMPAIGN for their regional kick-off on November 25, much like the Dallas Cowboys did during a halftime performance with Selena Gomez earlier this year. The Bolts also annually partner with the Salvation Army and hold kettle drives each season.

Beginning on November 25 the Lightning hosted staff, the Red Kettle Band and Mr. Kettle himself on the plaza as the Salvation Army took control from there, which featured FOUR select games through the end of December in which red kettles were present around the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

METROPOLITAN MINISTRIES

Well over 4,000 pounds of food has been donated to the METROPOLITAN MINISTRIES, an organization the Bolts have been a part of in a wide range of ways.

Each year the Lightning aim to be involved with their holiday tent to support clients, families, volunteers and staff help distribute THOUSANDS of toys and meals. This year the Bolts scheduled TWO staff days through C.H.A.R.G.E. – Contributing Hours Across our Region through our Generous Employees - during the week of Thanksgiving and the week before Christams. The Lightning saw 40 employees volunteer at each.

There was also a game night collection of food on November 25. If Bolts' fans brought in 10 non-perishable food items they received ONE free voucher to a future Lightning game. On that night alone, the Bolts saw 2,000 pounds of food donated by the local Tampa Bay community.

TOYS FOR TOTS
Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Anders Lindback (above) visited Tampa General Hospital's Children's Medical Center and distributed 40 NHL bear blankets .

Seeing their best campaign in nearly 10 years, according to Smith, the Lightning donated a BOX TRUCK FULL of toys. Fans were able to get involved by bringing in a toy to the Bolts' box office by December 20 and in exchange received ONE free voucher to redeem for a future game. Before December 12's game, marines, retirees and volunteers from the Marine Corps collected toys too.

"It's just another great example of game day activities and tying in the holiday theme to which our fans were incredibly generous in supporting this year and we can't thank them enough," Smith said

EMPLOYEE DONATIONS

Owner, Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny, graciously donated $75 to EVERY full-time employee, so they could spread holiday cheer to a family in need.

The OPPORTUNITIES WERE ENDLESS for more than 190 Bolts' employees, who picked up what totaled nearly $15,000 that was distributed throughout the Tampa Bay area. Staff could donate the money to either a charity of their choice or buy gifts for a family they knew of in the community that was in need of some support around the holiday season. The community relations department also provided a list of suggested charities for those who were not quite sure of which direction to take with their donation.

LIGHTNING TEAMMATES GET INVOLVED

On THREE occasions leading up to the holidays, Bolts' players spread joy through Tampa Bay. On November 26 Eric Brewer, Nate Thompson and Matt Carle spent nearly TWO hours in drive-thru lanes of the holiday tent at Metropolitan Ministries collecting community donations.

On Friday, December 20 Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Anders Lindback visited Tampa General Hospital's Children's Medical Center and distributed 40 NHL bear blankets as well as signing autographs and taking pictures with children who were getting daily treatments and those who were forced to be in the hospital for extended stays.

Then on Sunday, December 22 prior to leaving for Sunrise, Florida for an upcoming game, the WHOLE LIGHTNING TEAM AND THEIR FAMILIES shared holiday gifts with children from "A Kids Place" of Kids Charity Tampa Bay. EVERY player and his wife or girlfriend was paired with a child who had been abused, abandoned or neglected and is part of a foster care system that keeps siblings together. The players and their loved ones spent a SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME making the holidays special for these kids.