The largest collection of Canucks jerseys seen so far this fall were one the backs of kids and teachers stuffed in the gym of Surrey’s Mary Jane Shannon elementary in honour of Trevor Linden, who came to the school Thursday to support The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School campaign.
Most of the shirts sported the iconic number 16 Linden wore as a Vancouver Canuck but there were a smattering of Keslers, Sedins, Luongos, Burrows and Bieksas, too.
There was also a street hockey game in the gym that left Linden sweating at the end, although he was in goal — it not being cool for someone six-foot-four to be seen pushing around little kids.
However, when it came to pushing, these Grade 7s could push with the best and there were roars of delight from the 300 kids watching every time the puck hit the net behind him.
Mary Jane Shannon — an inner-city school on 144th Street — is one of the schools supported by The Vancouver Sun’s campaign. It will receive $2,500 from the Trevor Linden Foundation to buy boots, winter coats, mitts, hats and such things as toothbrushes for needy children.
The money will also be used to buy helmets for kids who bike or skateboard to school.
“We’ll buy helmets because we’re concerned that they don’t have them and we don’t want any of them injured,” said Surrey school district business development manager Liane Ricou.
Linden, who owns a number of gyms in Metro Vancouver, is making donations to two other schools — Morley Elementary in Burnaby and Hastings Elementary in Vancouver — for a total of $4,800, which will be matched by The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund.
The sums given Morley and Hastings will be used for food vouchers, transit tickets and other emergency items requested by impoverished families.
Linden said he was happy to donate to children in need.
“It was a fun day to come out and see the kids and play some street hockey and make a donation for the children here. It will be used for shoes and boots and winter clothes and for other things the children need,” said Linden.
Linden said it was important for business in a community — like his — to step forward and help.
“Corporately Vancouver’s got a great reputation for making a difference. Regardless of what size business you are, you can make a difference in your own community and that’s important.
“We do have a real need, whether it be for breakfast programs, after school programs, there’s need out there and through The Vancouver Sun Adopt-a-School program it’s pretty easy to identify.
“So there’s a lot of businesses, small or big, that can make a difference right now in their own backyard,” said Linden.
Mary Jane Shannon is one of four Surrey schools that will be part of the Sticks and Stars program, which will combine after school instruction in hockey and space sciences, said Ricou.
“We will be bringing in professional hockey coaches for the program so kids can improve their hockey skills,” she said.
“It will give the boys a chance to learn some new skills and get to know something about space sciences.”
A number of boys in various schools who have been identified as showing high-risk behaviour have been chosen for the program, which will run Saturdays.
By introducing hockey players and instructors to the troubled youth, it’s hoped they will replace the “inappropriate role models” these kids now seem to be admiring, said Ricou.
“Hopefully, they won’t continue to see that [criminal] lifestyle as the way to success,” she said.
By Gerry Bellett (firstname.lastname@example.org)