Atlantic Youth Hockey League


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Support Local Families in Need


PITTSTON, P.A. — The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights take pride in living up to their name on and off the ice, heroically helping their community wherever they can. Whether it's fundraisers or volunteering their time, the Knights keep finding ways to give back to their community. 


Team Manager of the 2013 Knights team Dr. Sheryl Oleski was overflowing with pride when describing all the ways that her team gets involved, “We’ve got a lot of great families and kids that want to give back. Anytime we need someone to pitch in and lend a hand, we always have a good amount of volunteerism.”


For example, the 2013 and 2008 Knights teams began the tradition of holding “Teddy Bear Toss” events — games where attendees throw teddy bears onto the ice whenever a goal is scored. The bears are then collected and donated to “Toys for Tots” a charity run by the Marine Corps that distributes toys to families that cannot afford to purchase gifts during the holiday season.  Last year, the Knights donated an astonishing 400 toys. 


Team Manager of the 2010 Knights Douglas Hart was blown away by the event and elected to adopt the tradition with his own team.  “There are so many teddies out on the ice that players are doing snow angels in them,” he beamed. 


The 2010 Knights team got involved when a young lady from the area named Gemma Bistran was diagnosed with cancer. The team rallied behind her, and through various charitable efforts, raised thousands dollars for her and her family. The 2010 team introduced their own iteration of the Teddy Bear Toss on November 19, where in addition to donating the bears to Toys for Tots, they also sold their own bears and donated the proceeds to the Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. Gemma was in attendance and the team rang a bell to signify that, just over a year after her initial diagnosis, she is now cancer free. 


Additionally, the Knights have had a fruitful partnership with the aforementioned Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen. Some of the older Knights players volunteer their time stocking shelves after the Knights’ annual food drive. 


The Knights are also proud participants in the “October Saves” charity movement, where goaltenders collect charitable donations towards cancer research for every save they make during the month. A goaltender on the 2008 AYHL team, Aiden Green, approached the organization about incorporating October Saves with the Knights three years ago. Since then, Green’s efforts have raised thousands. Other Knights goalies have followed his lead in recent years, each raising money for charity every October. A goalie on the 2013 team, Noah Kim, is currently employing a modified version of October Saves, instead collecting donations for families affected by the Lewiston, Maine tragedy.


Dr. Oleski believes that helping people is part of the core identity of being a Knight, stating,  “It helps the kids realize that there’s more to life than just hockey, but hockey can change a lot of lives by helping out through these community measures.” The Knights have indeed changed a lot of lives, and AYHL is proud to support the growth and development of such outstanding young people.




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