A Huntsville hockey team is topping the charts in the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, holding an early lead in a contest that offers the chance to win $100,000 for a local charity.
Team manager Sarah Roberts said the 4560 Huntsville Sting U13-Black team decided to get involved in the Good Deeds Cup after walking for the Coldest Night of the Year last winter. It inspired them to get more involved in the community, which led them to the 8th annual Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup. It challenges eligible U11 to U15 minor hockey teams to perform good deeds and share them on social media. Each team receives points for their good deeds with the grand prize going to the charity selected by the winning team once the challenge ends on March 3.
“We do think that being part of a hockey team is a lot more than what just happens on the ice,” Sarah said. “We feel really lucky that our teammates and our families feel the same this year, and everybody’s just coming together and doing all sorts of good deeds for each other and for the community.”
The team took an early lead in the challenge, and they’re able to get a boost from their fellow community members as well. Teams can post good deeds from players, their families and the community at large, so locals are encouraged to get involved. Participants can either follow the contest guidelines for posting, or they can simply send photos/videos and details of their good deeds to the hockey team.
A successful start to the challenge is good news for the team’s chosen charity, Food4Kids Muskoka. The organization provides food to local students discreetly while they’re at school to make sure that no children go hungry over the weekend. After contemplating several causes, the team chose Food4Kids because it provides direct help to the players’ peers.
“With it being a new program up here, we just thought that if we did win the money for them, it could really make a serious tangible impact for a lot of kids in our community,” Sarah said. “Kids helping kids just seemed to be a really good fit.”
She and her fellow parents hope to raise community-minded human beings, so Sarah said they feel lucky to be doing the challenge together. After reaching out to Food4Kids, the hockey team went to the organization’s office to put together food packages and learn more about their work. Sarah said it was great to get an understanding of how they operate and see the girls’ interest in it.
“We learned that $100,000 is about 7,000 food bags for kids if we were to win this, so that’s impressive because when we went, we filled 76 as a team around the table,” Sarah said. “That was a lot of food and so 7,000 bags is a real serious impact.”
She’s glad to see the team remaining at the top of the leaderboard, and they’re motivated to stay there. It’s becoming second nature for the girls to hold doors, pick up garbage and more after just a few weeks of the challenge, she said.
The hockey team has worked hard throughout the challenge, so it’s been heartwarming for Sarah and the rest of the staff to see their commitment to kindness grow.
“They’ve been doing good things their whole lives, but I think that this is [helping them] make a conscious decision to do them,” Sarah said. “It’s going to be a lifelong impact on our girls, on our families, and I don’t see anybody stopping doing good deeds when the contest is over.”
Hockey players Rosa Roberts and Kaelyn Doughty, both 12, agree that the challenge is pushing them to do things they would have done already, just a little more often and a little more intentionally.
“Even if the contest wasn’t going on, I think my team would still be doing good deeds,” Rosa said. “This is just to motivate us more to do it.”
With teams across the country participating, it feels good to know they’re in first place, Doughty said. She hopes others in the community will get involved and send in their good deeds to help ensure they win the grand prize for Food4Kids.
“I like helping out a bunch of people in need that we go to school with that we don’t even know,” Doughty said. “And I like doing good deeds because it just makes you feel good about yourself.”
Rosa said the challenge is a chance to spread kindness while spending time with their teammates. Visiting the Food4Kids office was a unique opportunity to learn and bond.
“I learned that it is really, really awesome what they are doing, and it’s so cool how they can help so many people,” Rosa said. “I really want to win this Good Deeds Cup to help more.”
Kristie Shaver, marketing and communications manager for Food4Kids Muskoka, said her team is especially grateful to be chosen because they’re new to the area. The overall organization started in Hamilton in 2012 and expanded into Muskoka last year.
“Our entire mission is to ensure that kids have weekends without hunger, so Food4Kids Muskoka is the sixth chapter under the umbrella of Food4Kids Ontario,” Shaver said. “We started feeding kids the last week of September, and we are now up to 76 children in seven schools every single week.”
The Food4Kids team creates a six-week menu including fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, snacks and more. Volunteers pack food into bags on Wednesdays and deliver them to schools on Fridays for the school staff to put in the children’s backpacks, avoiding any extra attention or stigma.
Food4Kids Muskoka doesn’t receive government support, so they operate through donations and the effort of about 80 volunteers. Each bag of food costs approximately $15 to put together thanks to their partnership with Deerhurst Resort. Partnering with the resort allows them to order their food at wholesale prices, doubling or tripling the impact of every dollar, and the free fruits and veggies donated by the resort help more bags get filled.
One of the key differences between Food4Kids and other food banks is that they don’t accept food donations from the public, only monetary donations. It helps them avoid disposal costs for expired goods and food that isn’t suitable for children. Since they want to keep kids at the forefront of their work, they only provide products that children can open and eat on their own.
“We don’t know what the situation is at home,” she said. “It can be anything from illness to loss of a job to loss of a parent to unfortunate circumstances that maybe there are poor choices made, but the fact is that the children are at the forefront of our minds.”
To that end, families don’t have to apply to the program because need is identified through the schools. Administrators, teachers and other staff keep an eye out for children who may need the support and send home a form offering the program. If the school receives a signed form back, Food4Kids feeds the child, no questions asked.
The dedication of the girls on the hockey team has inspired everyone at Food4Kids to go all in on the challenge. Along with contributing their good deeds, they’re helping the hockey team collect and post deeds from the rest of the community.
“Not only did they choose us and they’re actively working to do these deeds, but we’re doing it with them,” Shaver said. “We invited them to come pack bags with us one Wednesday, and it was just really beautiful to see what goes in the bag and to know that their hands were putting together the bag that was going to nourish a child, probably in their own school, on that weekend.”
Shaver is excited to see awareness grow so that more families can get involved in Food4Kids, whether they’re involved as volunteers, donors or recipients. Every like, share, comment and quick conversation helps spread the word.
Supporting a non-profit often requires donating money or time, but the Good Deeds Cup is a unique chance to help out without spending money or making a formal time commitment. Shaver urges locals to take the opportunity to make a real difference through acts as small as doing a chore for a family member, writing a thank-you note or leaving a five-star review.
“These can be done within your home for free in such a small amount of time, but in turn, they make such a massive impact on our community,” Shaver said. “When the girls win this $100,000, it’s not just a transactional impact. This is a transformational impact that the community will make on kids in our own schools.”
To see the leaderboard and get more information, visit the Chevrolet website.
To contribute a good deed to the challenge, post a picture or a video (60 seconds or less) on a public social media page, making sure to use the tags @4560huntsvillestingu13-black, @chevroletcanada, #GoodDeedsCup and #Contest, or send your materials to firstname.lastname@example.org, 4560 Huntsville Sting U13-Black or Food4Kids Muskoka.