Gifts from NHL clubs support Army’s work in Florida disasters

By: Brad Rowland

Residents of Florida face a potentially lengthy recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and The Salvation Army stands alongside them in doing the most good. To aid in that effort, organizations stemming from the National Hockey League have generously contributed to the Army’s ongoing work in the region.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers are competitors on the ice but, away from competition, the two teams are heading the effort to help others. The Vinik Family Foundation, representing Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik, and the Florida Panthers Foundation each donated $250,000 to ongoing disaster relief efforts, and their donations were joined by $50,000 from the National Hockey League and $50,000 from the National Hockey League Players Association.

Both the Lightning and Panthers support the Army locally in the Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale areas and the investment, well beyond Hurricane Irma and its impact, is clear. “They hope to foster this as a long-term relationship,” said Kevin Smith, director of emergency disaster services for the Florida Division. “The focus is on helping to spread the word of preparedness and engaging community response throughout the year, rather than simply in response to hurricanes or other relief efforts.”

The Army’s three-tier process in hurricane relief, including emergency assistance, short-term recovery and long-term restoration, requires financial commitment; the donations from the NHL will provide much-needed resources to aid in the accomplishment of the overall mission.

While every NHL team begins each season with a focus on claiming the ultimate hockey prize of the Stanley Cup, there are big-picture goals that include community building and simply helping others. Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, in conjunction with the league itself, are backing that vision with tangible investment.