Hockey players plan food drive for the Island Food Pantry

The coaches and senior class boys are spearheading the food drive. Kneeling, left to right: Charles Goldthwait, Bob Perry, Noah Stobie Standing: Coach Matt Mincone, Colby Gouldrup, Captain Tyler Araujo, Captain Nelson Dickson, Mike Sylvia, Coach Max Sherman. — Photo by Meredith Goldthwait

Next weekend, December 16-18, a remarkable food drive will be conducted by boys hockey players from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. With the help of their generous neighbors, the skaters hope to fill a school bus with food to be donated to the Island Food Pantry. It’s not a novel idea, but it’s a good one, and its scale is impressive.

“Going back a few years, we started to take on community projects among the team,” coach Matt Mincone said. “I want these kids to know what community service is about. One year, we did an Island-wide clean-up along the roads, and we picked up 1,300 pounds of garbage — everything from a peacock feather to a mattress — I mean we got all of it. This year we’re pushing it to a different level.”

Support for hockey runs deep on the Island, with players from 4 to 64 lacing up their skates regularly for their turn on the ice at the M.V. Arena. The MVRHS hockey teams are a focal point for active players of all ages, along with a sizable non-skating fan base.

“We have a unique situation here: the kids seem to get a lot of things — a wind suit, a jacket — that they might not even get at a college program,” Mr. Mincone said. “We’ve gotten incredible support this year. Even though it’s a tough time, people are finding a way to give a little bit to the boys program. And it’s tough for us to give back other than to go out and play hard for the people that come out and watch us. My whole thing is: what are we going to give back now?”

“Matt has always looked for things to do during the hockey season to make sure that people know how much we appreciate this community and the support they have shown us,” assistant coach Max Sherman said. “One way is to take a few hours out of our days to help those that are needy during the holiday season.”

After consulting with Meredith Goldthwait, president of the boys hockey booster club, Mr. Mincone decided to fill a bus with food and donate it to the food pantry.

“During the holiday season, the families that may not have essential foods, now maybe they’ll have a little extra to have their friends over,” Mr. Mincone said. “For me, anyway, the true holiday spirit is about family, friends, you know.”

Starting on Friday, Dec. 16, at 4 pm, the bus will be parked in a prominent spot next to the arena. Staffed by hockey players ready to receive donations of non-perishable food, it will be open until 10 pm.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, it will be open from 9 am until midnight, with a break in the afternoon for both varsity and jayee games. The boys will be back in the bus on Sunday morning, from 9 to 11 am. Then the bus will be driven to the food pantry where the boys will unload the food.

“I hope it reaches beyond the hockey team,” Mr. Mincone said of the spirit of the food drive. “This isn’t about high school athletics. We’re just the avenue for people to do it.

“I’m just trying to get that little extra zing for the holidays.”

Donations can also be made by check and sent to The Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1874, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.