The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/09/11 at 10:36 PM ET
The Red Wings’ most important team activity on Friday had nothing to do with their participation in practice at Joe Louis Arena. Instead, several members of the Wings’ front office and roster engaged in a friendly competition to raise money for the Salvation Army, manning donation kettles around the Metro area, and as Drew Miller told DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, the Wings are well aware of the fact that the four-letter word that is poverty is all too common in our still economically recovering state:
“There are so many people working hard and getting by with what they have,” Miller said. “I think for us to be able to go and ring the bell and collect some money and help out anyway we can, that’s huge for our state, and we’ll help out and do our part. I feel very fortunate for the life that I’ve had and you want to be able to help people who are having tough times and definitely we see it because we’re living here in Michigan and we know people who are affected by it or you see it in different ways. I think in the whole country there are people that are having tough times and counting on some help and this is a way to help out and raise some money. It’s a huge thing. You see people give whatever they can, whether it’s some change or a dollar and some people put a lot of money into it. Any little bit goes a long way and it’s very generous of people to give.”
Coach Mike Babcock agreed…
“Obviously, we all know that in Michigan, and Detroit in particular, things aren’t going well for everybody, and that gives you a little perspective,” said Babcock, who along with Holland manned the kettles for two-hours at Hiller’s Market in downtown Northville. “You lose a game and you get twisted out of shape, when in reality it has nothing to do with cancer kids or people who can’t afford to pay their utility bills and feed their families. … I can’t even imagine. That’s why the Red Kettle thing that people do every year and the volunteers who raise money – and it’s fun for our guys and for Ken Holland and myself – but it’s important to make it a priority that we need to help out and do what we can. And part of the notoriety of our jobs is that it gives us those opportunities and we embrace them.”
And Roose’s selection of stats about the Salvation Army’s levels of support for Michigan’s many unemployed and struggling citizens only tell part of the story, because Michigan’s many charities find themselves struggling to support families and individuals in our state thanks to decreases in state support for charitable organizations, food banks, heat and electricity subsidies and massive cuts to welfare assistance which affected over 10,000 families and 20,000 kids. What the Wings did today helps out in a big way…
People who never once held a hand out for support now find themselves turning to The Salvation Army, who stands ready to assist, indiscriminately. Last year alone, The Salvation Army was responsible for providing the needy of metro Detroit with more than 8,750 meals per day, while giving shelter to 1,880 people each night.
Like Miller, [Justin] Abdelkader too grew-up in Michigan, which, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, had the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate last month at 10.6%.
“Just the tough times that you see the state going through, all of the people who are in need of food and clothing, it’s just tough to see,” Abdelkader said. “It’s always nice to be able to give back and help out.”
The financial goal for the Red Kettle campaign this year is $8.2 million, and with the generosity of the Wings and Holland – who for the sixth straight year is the honorary chairman for the annual initiative – The Salvation Army will hit its mark.
“Both the players and staff have embraced The Salvation Army and have remained committed to helping people in need in our community,” Holland said. “We’re proud to support The Salvation Army again this year, and celebrate its 125th year of serving the people of metro Detroit.”
And while the players who participated in the event—Cory Emmerton, Miller, Abdelkader, Helm and Valtteri Filppula—were engaged in a little friendly competition with Holland and Babcock to raise the most money over a two-hour bell-ringing period, their presence in terms of smiles, handshakes and signatures given to fans who might be among the Salvation Army’s long list of clients might have meant just as much as the money they raised.
As Roose notes, the Salvation Army’s red kettles will make appearances on Joe Louis Arena’s concourses for the next four home games as well, and as somebody who had to lean on the Salvation Army for help at one point, I’d highly recommend that you carry around an extra $5 in your pocket so that you can lend a hand regardless of where you see those red kettles around Metro Detroit over the rest of the holiday season.
The Free press also posted a video of Mike Babcock and Ken Holland’s participation in the event, and more press related to the outing’s in the offing.
Update: As promised, per the Northville Patch’s John McKay, Jessica Schrader and Nancy Kelsey:
Tough on the ice, the Detroit Red Wings showed their softer side Friday when they rang bells and collected money for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign throughout Metro Detroit. Six players, the team’s coach and general manager took some time away from their NHL Central Division race and collected donations for about two hours Friday in Plymouth, Troy, Northville and Birmingham, allowing fans a chance to get personal with their favorite Red Wings while giving a boost to the Salvation Army’s holiday fundraising.
At the Plymouth Kroger, fans filed outside the door and around the store to donate money and get autographs from — and photographs with — Red Wings Drew Miller and Valtteri Filppula. For Miller, who grew up in East Lansing, being able to give back to families in his home state was special.
“Whatever team you’re playing for, you want to help give back to that community for supporting the team,” he said. “But for me, being from Michigan and going to Michigan State for college, it means a lot to give back to the state.”
“Obviously it’s a great cause,” Babcock said, adding that it’s especially important as tough economic times have hit Michigan. “We’re supported so well by the community and the state, that we’re showing our support,” he said. “People need shelter and food, so the Salvation Army steps in.”
Maj. Dan Hull of the Salvation Army said each year the Red Wings’ bell-ringing effort yields “several thousand” dollars, and the goal for this effort was to raise about $2,000 in each of the four locations. Hull said the Red Wings have participated in the Red Kettle Campaign each of his three years in his post with the organization, and each has provided a sizable boost for the organization. He said the total amount raised at this year’s event should be calculated by midnight.
John Hale, development director for the Salvation Army, attended the fundraising effort at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy with Red Wings Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, and also performed with the Salvation Army band outside the store.
Hale said the Troy store is the “official” autograph location for Red Wings players and tends to get a large turnout each year. “I think it’s great,” he said of the turnout. “It’s important because the need has never been greater.”
Hell, a buck, fifty cents, your change…Many Michganders can speak to receiving support from the Salvation Army at one time or another, and I certainly know that when the big Econoline vans pull up at night and collect the kettles, that money gets counted, collated and then all but immediately reinvested in helping out people in need.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.