The Coachella Valley Firebirds are set to hit the ice in their first home game in just under two weeks on Sunday, Dec. 18. On Tuesday, the players and staff took a break from practice to help out in their community.
“We’re stepping foot into what we want to make our home and I think it’s important to recognize the needs of the community and step in and help when we have a chance,” said Dan Bylsma, Coachella Valley Firebirds Head Coach.
Players, coaches, and their families offered helping hands to assemble and pack boxes filled with canned and dry goods for seniors experiencing food insecurity.
“Having the team here today to be able to help pack up the food is something that we’re very excited about and it’s one of the things that we’ll be doing to engage and be involved with the community while we’re out here for the long term,” Steve Fraser, Coachella Valley Firebirds President.
Even some little hands joined in to make a big difference in the community.
“Here in the Coachella Valley, FIND Food Bank serves approximately 25,000 seniors on average every month,” said Debbie Espinosa, President and CEO of FIND Food Bank.
About 1 in 15 seniors in the United States are at risk of being food insecure. The need is especially great as inflation continues to bite into budgets everywhere.
“We want to make sure that the community as a whole has access to nutritious food as well, especially those that are food insecure,” said Espinosa.
Each box consists of about $50 worth of food to support seniors in the Commodity Supplemental Food Box Program.
“The food is senior specific, so we try to tailor it to the palette of seniors making sure that the food is healthy, nutritious, low salt, low sodium products in order to help them continue to be able to thrive as they continue to age,” said Espinosa.
Once the food is packed, hundreds of these boxes will be sent to 35 distribution sites across the Coachella Valley.
“I think you have to take the opportunity presented to you and being a professional hockey team… you have an opportunity to give back to the community that you’re in and I think it’s super important to be a good player and a good person,” said Bylsma. “It’s important for our guys to come out here and put that hand forward for the community.”
Those over the age of 60 who are interested in the Commodity Supplemental Food Box Program (CSFP) can apply by visiting FIND Food Bank’s website. The program has a limited number of spots available.