Lopes’ players, coaches deliver bags of food to St. Mary’s Food Bank in time for holiday
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Two teams. Dozens of players. Four oversized and overstuffed bags.
And a lot of heart.
At a time when non-profit agencies – especially those that feed the hungry – are even more desperate for help and donations than the normal holiday season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Hockey team and GCU Women’s Hockey team came to their aid, delivering bags of non-perishable food items to the St. Mary’s Food Bank on West Thomas Road in Phoenix Wednesday morning.
“We were trying to come up with things we could do for a team-building activity while still maintaining social distancing, and one of our student leaders suggested putting together a food drive,” said Lopes’ Men’s Hockey Head Coach Danny Roy. “With COVID making things so difficult on families economically that they might not even have a Thanksgiving, and knowing that St. Mary’s really needed donations, it made sense to do something like this, and help people in need. It took no time at all for the women’s hockey players to get on board, and it wound up a total program effort.”
The food drive by the teams spanned several days and yielded over 100 pounds of food. It’s far from the first time the two teams have joined forces to make something like this happen, but they had to adjust their game plans due to the pandemic.
“Each year, we try to help Feed My Starving Children (the Mesa branch of the Christian non-profit organization that feeds hungry children worldwide), but COVID affected how we can do community service,” said Roy. “I give the credit to our student leadership, because they got their groups involved, and put together goals in a semester when we’re not physically playing hockey.”
It has been a trying autumn for the two teams, since just like the rest of the world, they’ve had to battle through the various tests and possible exposures to COVID-19 while still maintaining their focus on classes – both virtual and in-person – and keeping in shape in anticipation of the spring season beginning in mid-January.
That’s why having this to focus on was even more essential than usual for the players.
“There are people who have a lot worse things happening than not being able to be on the ice, so doing something like this not only goes towards our university’s mission, but gives our players a sense of accomplishment and a chance to enjoy something that’s a success,” said Roy. “They’re now using this as a building block and looking towards other community assistance events. It keeps them focused moving forward.”