Warmth Amidst Cold
Winning is one Boston College men’s hockey tradition, and so is service — especially around Christmas time.
The Eagles recently held their third annual collection of new, boxed, unwrapped toys for patients at Children’s Hospital Boston. The team took donations at their Dec. 2 game in Conte Forum against Boston University and their Nov. 24 contest versus Dartmouth. On Tuesday, players delivered the donated toys to the hospital.
Organized by senior goaltender Parker Milner, the toy drive is another affirmation of the team’s longstanding relationship with the world-famous hospital, which members past and present have regularly visited.
“I remember my freshman year , we brought the national championship trophy with us, and what a great time that was,” recalls Pittsburgh native Milner, a Carroll School of Management student with a concentration in marketing. “The kids there are going through a lot, and don’t have much to look forward to. We just want to brighten their day, whether with a toy or simply by being there and spending time with them.
“However much the kids might enjoy it, it brings an even bigger smile to our faces.”
Milner — who praises the Pike’s Peak team booster club for their assistance with the toy drive — has been encouraged by the results: Donations to this year’s drive, he said last week, are likely to surpass those from last year, which filled 15 hockey equipment bags (the first year filled 10 bags’ worth).
In addition, last week, the toy drive received a financial donation from Marge Kelley, wife of legendary hockey coach John “Snooks” Kelley, as well as Kelley’s daughter Candy Kelley McLaughlin and grandson Patrick Kelley McLaughlin.
Like many BC student-athletes, Milner came to the Heights with a goodly amount of service experience in hand, from his days in high school and at Old Avon Farms prep school in Connecticut. Playing junior hockey for a season in Waterloo, Iowa, Milner helped out at the local Humane Society and other charities. While at Waterloo, he also was witness to the “teddy bear toss” — when the team scored its first goal, fans would throw teddy bears on the ice, which the players would collect and donate to Toys for Tots.
“I liked that whole idea, but I thought we could do something a bit more organized here, and gear it towards helping Children’s Hospital,” says Milner.
He talked with BC Athletic Association administrators, who helped him make arrangements to set a toy drive in motion. It wasn’t hard to decide for which game to schedule the collection.
“The game against BU is always a big one. That’s where you get the most fans, and the most interest. So while we might set up collections on a couple of other dates, we definitely figure on BC-BU.”
Although Milner is graduating in the spring, the holiday toy drive will stay in place, he says: He’s already tapped sophomore goaltender Brian Billett to take up the leadership reins.
“We’re given so much by BC, and so much support from the community,” says Milner. “We’re fortunate to be student-athletes, and blessed to be able to do what we do. So it’s foolish of us not to give back something of ourselves.
“Just seeing how optimistic each child is, how happy they are, despite what’s going on in their lives, makes a difference in how you see the world. We’re all grateful to have the opportunity to do this.”
For more on the BC men’s hockey toy drive, see the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BostonCollegeHockeyToyDriveForChildren, or contact Parker Milner at firstname.lastname@example.org