In recent years the Columbus Blue Jackets have been known throughout the community for their service work and fundraising. From growing mustaches to slinging drinks, the Jackets made fundraising look cooler than ever. Here are just a few things the Columbus Blue Jackets foundation and organization did for the community.
FOR THE KIDS
One of the many community endeavors the Columbus Blue Jackets foundation is known for funding is a rebuild of a local park. Westgate playground was the lucky recipient of a much-needed upgrade. On September 5th, 2014 people throughout the Jackets organization and fans helped turn this drab playground into a fun-filled hockey themed playground. Even Matt Calvert, Curtis McElhinney, and Marc Letestu joined in on the fun.
The day ended with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a happy executive director of the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association. “The playground is amazing, but it’s more than a playground. It’s an investment in the quality of life of these kids. The Blue Jackets organization get that, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Woody Woodward, executive director of the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, said to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
During the Summer of 2014, Columbus Police Officers handed out tickets to kids practicing good safety. Those kids were rewarded with a brand new helmet at a ceremony on September 11th. According to the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation page , one of the leading causes of hospital stays among children is due to head trauma and “an estimated 275,000 children younger than 15 years old visit the emergency departments each year for bicycle-related injuries in the U.S.”
Upon being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Philadelphia Flyers, Scott Hartnell immediately got a hold of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation and paid for multiple players from different youth hockey programs in Columbus to attend his #HartnellDown camp on August 13th.
Hartnell also covered the full cost of sending 6 players from his hometown of Lloydminster to the Bobcats Hockey School.
Hartnell’s team created new #HartnellDown shirts that feature the Jackets color scheme. These shirts were sold on the #HartnellDown website and at the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation kiosk in front of section 111 at Nationwide Arena. Proceeds went to the #HartnellDown foundation.
This past season the wives and girlfriends of the players came out in full force to support the community. The most notable thing the ladies did was open the Princess Room at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus.
While in town for treatments at local hospitals, sick children and their families find a comforting home at the Ronald McDonald House. The Lady Jackets, especially Brett Letestu, have been a fixture at the house for many years. A few years back they even put in a Jackets Zone room full of hockey themed items for the little boys to play in during their visit.This year the Lady Jackets felt like it was the little girls turn to have a room to call their own.
The Princess Room is decked out with a castle and dresses so the girls can play dress-up. In an interview with Fox Sports Ohio’s Alison Lukan, Brett Letestu (Mark Letestu’s wife) explained why the Lady Jackets decided to create a room just for little girls to escape the world. “We’re always doing something hockey related or for the guys so it’s nice to be there for little girls.”
Themed jerseys are one of the most coveted items a Jackets fan could own. Not only are the jerseys worn by the players during warm ups they are unique in style and color than the normal game jerseys. Jackets fans flock to the bidding table religiously on gameday when the jerseys are auctioned off in hopes of placing a bid high enough to win one of these coveted jerseys.
The 2014-15 season themed jerseys raised around $72,000 for various causes around the community such as the USO and the fight against pediatric cancer.
— CBJ Gives Back (@CBJGivesBack) March 13, 2015
Every year the Jackets organization picks a few causes to help raise awareness about. Some dumped ice on their heads for the the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Others grew out mustaches and encouraged others to participate in the efforts of Movember. However, the one cause that everyone in the organization rallied around was the “Do it for Daron” foundation.
The suicide of Luke Richardson’s daughter, Daron, rocked both the Jackets and Senators community in 2010. Daron’s death quickly began to raise awareness for the importance of mental health throughout Columbus and Ottawa. It even spawned a foundation that focuses on raising awareness and sensitivity towards mental health.
During the 2014-15 season, Blue Jackets alumni and kids who played with Daron organized a hockey game to raise money for the “Do it for Daron” foundation. The event took place the day after Thanksgiving and raised $10,000 for the foundation.
PLAYER DAY OF SERVICE
On December 8th, 2014 the Jackets held their annual player day of service. The players split into two different groups. One group went to the Mid Ohio Food Bank where the players sorted over 47,000 pounds of food. The other group went to the Furniture Bank and built furniture for those in need.
— CBJ Gives Back (@CBJGivesBack) December 8, 2014
Local bars in Columbus love to be a part of fundraising efforts. They graciously open their doors to the Jackets for fan related events such as Celebrity Bartending Night and CBJ Shoot.
Celebrity Bartending Night has been a staple among the Jackets community for many years. Three players go to a local bar and sling drinks for those in attendance. Fans are welcome to go through the line as many times as they want, have the players sign what they want (within reason), and have good conversation with the player of their choice. Then, the players take off their sweaty jerseys and auction them off to benefit the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation. The bartender with the most tips and highest bid on their jersey at the end of the night is deemed the winner.
Thanks to RBar, Pint House, Scott Hartnell, Dalton Prout, Michael Chaput, Boone Jenner, Matt Calvert, Cory Tropp, Nick Foligno, Ryan Johansen, and Kevin Connauton the Celebrity Bartending Nights raked in a total of $11,900 for the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation.
This year was the debut of a new fundraiser, CBJ Shoot. BBR in the Arena District and Yogis in Dublin opened their doors for this new rock, paper, scissors tournament. “There was a $5 dollar entry to be chosen to play,” said long time fan of the team Michelle Harklau, “They also sold special glasses with #CBJShoot on them.” At the end of the night the player who hosted the event auctioned off his jersey. Cam Atkinson, James Wisniewski, and Jody Shelley hosted the events.
Elaine is in her first year writing for The Hockey Writers. She will mostly be covering the Columbus Blue Jackets, Lake Erie Monsters, NWHL, and the charitable works all hockey players partake in.
She just ended a two season internship with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets.