When Ole Piper Inn burned down Nov. 15, one women’s hockey team was out a gathering spot after practice and games and two regular servers were suddenly out of a job just before the holiday season began with families to take care of.
The Bombers, a – WHAM (Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota) team based at the Schwan Super Rink on the National Sports Center campus in Blaine, were sponsored by the long-time restaurant on Highway 65 south of the NSC and east of Fogerty Arena in Blaine and wanted to help the business anyway possible.
The fire helped spark the Bombers into action for its first community service project.
“We were shocked and saddened,” team member Kimm Deline said about hearing the bad news.
The Bombers invited the two families to a Dec. 19 game at the Schwan Super Rink to receive their gifts after the game.
Goalie Heidi Michaels mentioned how tragic it was for the staff who at least temporarily lost their job, focusing on two regular servers: Meagan and Christa, “to lose their jobs and income unexpectedly right before the holidays.”
“They were really surprised with all of the stuff we gave them,” Deline said after handing over the donations following their regular season game. “And they emailed [Michaels] back right away at how grateful they were.”
Deline proposed the idea of an Adopting-Our-Servers plan for Christmas as a way to make a difference in their lives. “The team unanimously thought it was a great idea,” Deline said as many teammates were part of other types of holiday giving programs through family, work or other organizations.
“Heidi [Daniels] contact the two and they were ecstatic,” Deline said about the offer.
By Dec. 20, the Bombers raised more than $730 in cash, gift cards, homemade gifts and toys for the two families from Bombers members, friends, family and others associated with WHAM. “To date we have received a generous donation from another team we played earlier in the month,” Deline said.
The team collected names, sizes and Christmas ideas and then went to work.
“We encouraged many types of donations – big or small such as a cash donation, gift cards, toys/needs for an individual child, offering to shop for the family, wrap gifts or make something homemade,” Deline said. “It is not just about giving money but sharing our talents, too.”
The Bombers use the Ole Piper Inn logo after a captain worked out a deal with the owner and although they didn’t work out a sponsorship deal this season, the team called the restaurant its home and welcomed other teams by for a bite to eat or drink after games.
Ole Piper Inn’s gnome and little man mascots plan to be at the rest of the Bombers home games in Blaine as their official mascots.
The Bombers were originally called the Brooklyn Bombers when they formed in 2004 and still have four original members on the team made up of three coaches, 14 skaters, one goalie and two substitute skaters.
Deline said the Bombers are more than a hockey team that gets together a couple times per week.
“We support each team member’s family, we encourage each other and we meet often for non-hockey activities,” Deline said as the Bombers have developed quite a reputation among the other league team’s for what they represent. “We try to display and represent that family persona to other teams and groups whether on the ice or off. It seemed only natural and fitting for us to want to help out other families and to make someone else’s Christmas memorable amidst a tragedy.”
Deline added: “We can’t wait to see our servers get back to work in the spring. We anxiously await the reopening of Ole Piper Inn!”
Jason Olson is at [email protected]