Lacrosse team honored for bringing Christmas cheer to hurricane victims
The Garden City boys varsity lacrosse team may be known for their winning ways but it’s their performance off the field that’s earned their latest accolades. The 2013 varsity team will be one of the honorees at The Long Beach Christmas Angel’s (LBCA) 12th annual holiday fundraiser on Friday, December 6 at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park.
LCBA is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of needy families in the Long Beach City school district. This past year they have focused on those struggling to rebuild their lives from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Long Beach suffered massive destruction from the storm and while many families have resumed their lives many more are still in need.
Over the past year, LBCA has assisted hundreds of families and donations continue on a daily basis. LBCA has helped with a range of needs including issuing mortgage and rent payments, supplying beds, furnishing homes, helping to secure home contracting services, clothing replacement, food and tuition bills.
The boys are being honored for turning their annual poinsettia fundraiser into a drive to help Long Beach residents cope after the storm. They encouraged poinsettia buyers to purchase a plant which would be given to residents of Long Beach. The campaign was quite successful with 400 plants ready to be donated. In mid-December, team members delivered 400 plants to St. Ignatius Church in Long Beach.
Judith Dolan, a mother of one of the boys said it was truly heartwarming to see how the team came together for a great cause. “The boys decided to do this on their own,” shared Dolan. “Though on the field there is a strong rivalry between the two towns, many of the boys have played lacrosse with each other for years on summer or travel leagues and they have formed friendships.”
When the plants arrived, Dolan said that people were streaming out of the church carrying poinsettias with tears in their eyes. Many Long Beach homes do not have attics so holiday decorations are relegated to the basement and most of the decorations were destroyed. The team also raised $1,200 which was donated to the Red Cross. The boys were thrilled to bring a little Christmas cheer to those suffering but it was also a sobering experience.
“Though Garden City was affected by loss of power and trees, many of the boys were shell shocked to see the devastation in Long Beach,” added Dolan. “They wanted to make a difference. As a team they are known for their lacrosse skills but this award speaks to who they are as human beings.”
Coach Steve Finnell couldn’t be prouder of the boys. “They wanted to show support for Long Beach,” said Finnell. “That they ended up donating 400 plants is a testament to how hard they work to make something they believe in happen.”
Johanna Sofield founded LCBA with the spirit of Christmas. The nonprofit originated from Christmas parties Sofield hosted during the holiday season. Families were encouraged to bring a toy for needy children, the toys were provided to charities like Toys for Tots. She decided to expand the nonprofit so she could have the flexibility to help more families. Funds were primarily raised by an annual fundraiser, until Hurricane Sandy hit Long Beach.
“I could have run out of money before I even left my block,” shared Sofield. “Grants have been provided by Robin Hood Foundation and we have provided a quarter of a million dollars in assistance just this last year.”
Of the experience, goalie Danny Dolan said it was great to help people who had lost so much. “We thought it would be great to do something for them as a team,” added Dolan. “We all have friends in Long Beach, bringing down the poinsettias plants seemed to make everyone happy.”
Sofield said amidst the sewage, dirt and debris, the poinsettias brought a little “color” to Long Beach. She was truly impressed how the athletic rivalry on the field was forgotten and how the boys just wanted to help. “The gesture kept the holiday alive,” added Sofield, “I’m pleased they will be recognized for their kindness.”