December 16, 2015 // Local

Saint Joseph hockey team shares Christmas spirit

Player Brian Tyler skates with his new friend during the adoptive family skating party in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

By Lisa Kochanowski 

SOUTH BEND — The Saint Joseph High School hockey team took a break from practice to spend time with two families they adopted during this holiday season.

This Adopt-A-Family program is facilitated through the University of Notre Dame’s athletic department that invites groups to “adopt” a family from Perley Elementary School and provide gifts for the children. Gifts were presented to the adoptive family at an ice skating party in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

This year, the hockey team adopted two families.

According to hockey coach Chris Kleva, hockey families made monetary donations and a couple of the moms shopped and wrapped all of the gifts. The adopted families provided a wish list giving the moms a starting point for gift purchases.

“In most cases, these are families (children) that otherwise wouldn’t have Christmas presents,” said Kleva. At the skating party, the Notre Dame athletic department sponsored a meal followed by family skating time. “Our boys eat with the family and go on the ice and help all of the kids skate. This is one of the most rewarding community service projects we do — the smiles on these kids faces while skating and then the joy in their eyes when we give them their gifts are pretty special to be a part of. It’s truly what Christmas is all about.”

This wonderful event happened during the middle of a hectic holiday season with shopping, school finals, hockey practice and games. Coach Kleva noted that there were plenty of reasons the boys could have checked-out, wanted to go home, or have less then stellar moods, but not one of them wanted to be anywhere else but at that arena to celebrate with these two families.

Tommy Lewis delivers presents during the party in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

“This is the most rewarding event of the year. Our student athletes have the chance to help a family that is struggling and provide a joyous Christmas morning for the family — happy kids that have a few presents to open and mom and dad to see these smiles,” said Kleva.


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