Saturday, 9 July 2016

Charitable Donations: Smilezone Foundation

It has been some time since I wrote one of these articles, but finding excellent charitable organizations with a hockey player at the forefront is always something I will endorse. Today, I am happy to bring attention to Smilezone Foundation which features former NHL star Adam Graves as one of the people behind this great organization. Adam was always extremely generous with his time and efforts as a member of the NHL fraternity, but his retirement hasn't stopped him from helping children and their families in their times of need.

Mission Statement: Directly from the Smilezone Foundation website, "The Smilezone Foundation's mission is to create, build and transform areas in hospitals, private treatment and development centres, and children's clinics in order to improve the lives of children facing illness, disabilities, and physical and emotional obstacles." They take rather sterile and blank areas where families meet at medical facilities and turn them into places that are warm and inviting so that being at the centers feels a little more like home.

How Did Smilezone Foundation Start?: Directly from the Smilezone Foundation website once more, "The idea of Smilezone started when Adam Graves and Scott Bachly were approached to make a financial contribution to the construction of a local hospital. The request made Adam and Scott realize they wanted to make a difference, not only in their community, but in communities across the country. As fathers themselves, Adam and Scott wanted to do something that would help children facing challenges as they have witnessed the obstacles facing families with sick children. They wanted to give kids a place to experience true reprieve from the day-to-day battles they face; a place, quite simply, that would put a smile on a child's face.

"This determination led to the creation of the Smilezone Foundation. The idea behind the foundation is simple: transform spaces in health care settings into an oasis for kids to give them the opportunity to enjoy being a kid, and more importantly, an opportunity to smile! Visiting a Smilezone is something that a child in treatment can look forward to, and it can ease the anxiety of being in a hospital or treatment facility, which can be frightening."

To date, Smilezone Foundation has completed 59 projects, mostly in the Ontario region. Some of the completed Smilezones can be found at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Children's Hospital in London, Kingston General Hospital in Kingston, Grandview Children's Centre in Oshawa, Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and ErinoakKids Centre in Mississauga.

You might ask what makes a Smilezone a better place for kids and families? Well, the transformations involve changing the sterile white interiors of most of these rooms to bright, colorful environments with new paint and mural designs. There's almost always the addition of TVs and electronic devices such as iPad stations, PS3 areas, and touchscreen interactive features. There are cubbies and sspaces exclusively for kids, and every area is about positivity and fun!

How Can I Help?: There's no denying that Smilezone Foundation relies heavily on donations for its supporters. The costs of upgrading these spaces for children and their families are often repaid with the countless smiles and happy faces seen on the children who pass through the Smilezone spaces. If you'd like to donate, there's a very easy online form to fill out on the Smilezone Foundation website.

However, there are more ways to get involved, and these options will literally give you memories for a lifetime. If you're a hockey player, you could stand opposite Adam Graves himself at the Smilezone Foundation's 24-Hour Hockey Tournament! This year's tournament raised over $123,000 with Angela James, Rick Vaive, Tom Fergus, Nathan LaFayette, Ric Nattress, Rob Zamuner, Brad Dalgarno, and Vic Hadfield all lending their support in meeting players, fans, and kids who were in attendance! How cool is that?

Perhaps your hockey days are past you, though, but you still want to get some great memories. Smilezone Foundation has a solution for you as well: the Celebrity Golf Tournament! This year's tournament - happening on July 18 at Rattlesnake Point Golf Club in Milton, Ontario - features a ton of incredible celebrities from the hockey world, so get your team together and register for the tournament via the online form! Imagine golfing with Adam Graves, Ron MacLean, or Eric Lindros!

You can always give them a call as well. The Smilezone Foundation can be reached at 905-951-2978 and a donation can be taken over the phone. If yu prefer the old "snail mail" route, you can mail the xx at:
Smilezone Foundation
557 Chartwell Road
Oakville, Ontario
L6J 4A8

Finally, if you do have any general questions, would like more information on any of the completed or upcoming projects, or want to submit an idea for a Smilezone project, I highly encourage you to get in touch with the Smilezone Foundation via their online form.

Adam Graves, the NHLPA, and the Smilezone Foundation are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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