The hockey net was overflowing with food once the dust settled at the annual Coleton Nelson Memorial Hockey Tournament in Aldergrove this past weekend.
The tourney’s namesake, Coleton – who would have been 18 years old this year – would surely have been proud, his mother Brenda told the Langley Advance.
Mom still can’t walk inside the Aldergrove Community Arena, without “completely losing it,” but she knows her son – who was killed in a car accident when he was 12 – would have been “tickled” to see his fellow hockey players do so much this past weekend to help less fortunate families in Aldergrove and Abbotsford.
They filled a net with non-perishable food, plus collected $130 in cash donations, and received a coinciding donation of $1,000 from a local labour organization.
All these contributions give what Brenda calls a “great start” to the Coleton Clause and Ryker’s Reindeer Christmas Charity drive this year.
Exactly five years to the day after Brenda and Wayne lost their 12-year-old son Coleton, they lost their 19-month-old grandson, Ryker Mcclurg.
Each year, to honour first Coleton and now his late nephew Ryker, the Nelson family provides Christmas hampers for families in need.
“Last year, with the help of the community, we were able to give 15 families enough food and gifts to last them at least three months,” Brenda explained.
“We also played secret Santa for a 16th family,” which Brenda described as “incredibly rewarding” and “uplifting.”
She is hoping to touch even more lives this Christmas.
This weekend’s contributions, on top of the $6,000 already raised back in June – around Coleton’s birthday, when Brenda put out a call out for donations to friends and family through Facebook – have ensure they can take care of at least seven families.
But Mom expects there will be more. This is just the start of the giving season, and she predicts they’ll receive much more between now and Christmas.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW
“We don’t just give them a typical hamper,” Brenda explained, noting each family typically receive about $1,000 worth of gifts and enough food to last for close to three months.
Brenda chooses to work with the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau – given their stricter screening processes – to help several families in that community.
In past, she’s asked bureau organizers to find her at least one family that has a young boy 12 years of age, like Coleton was when he passed away.
Then, she asks to sponsor a family with a boy the age Coleton would be this year, at Christmas.
Given this year’s passing of their grandson, she will also be asking to sponsor a family with a toddler Ryker’s age.
Her hope is to also help five or six Aldergrove families through the secret Santa initiative, but that Brenda said that always hinges on donations.
For more information on the drive and what’s needed, Brenda will again be updating people through the Coleton Clause Facebook page.
Even thought Brenda couldn’t attend the tournament, her husband did drop the ceremonial first puck. And both of them, she said, are incredibly proud of what the youngsters and their parents were able to do in the way of helping the charity this year.
While the namesake tournament has become a fixture at the Aldergrove rink each fall, the fund and food-raising initiative is new.
And hockey parents, Brenda has been told, are already thinking of more ways they can try to help the cause. Ideas are being tossed around for an Ugly Christmas Sweater hockey tourney, as just one example.
The Aldergrove Community Arena was Coleton’s “home away from home” since he was five and stepped out on the ice to skate, said Mom.
He wore the #10 jersey for the Aldergrove Bruins. In the last big tournament in Penticton about a month before his death, Coleton helped his team win the competition in a shoot out.
“He lived and breathed hockey… everything revolved around hockey,” Mom said. And he’d be so proud of what the players accomplished during the three-day tournament on his home ice.