When you mention the Columbus Blue Jackets, the obvious word that comes to mind for most of us is “Hockey.” CBJ Hockey fans will recall great games, like when the CBJ swept #1 ranked Tampa Bay Lighting in the first round of the Stanley Cup Finals. Some fans may reminisce about former players like Rick Nash, Artemi Panarin, or Sergei Bobrovsky, while others may think of recent or current favorites like Nick Foligno, David Savard, Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, or Seth Jones. For me personally, I’m a big Jody Shelley fan. I even have a dog named Jody, after Jody Shelley. Regardless of your individual thoughts, there’s no question CBJ means Hockey.
But just as the Jackets are fighters ON the ice, they fight just as hard OFF the ice. How? By putting sincere and heartfelt effort, year-around, into making central Ohio a better place to live.
The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation
The CBJ are currently celebrating their 20th year in the NHL. Alongside them, The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation is also celebrating its 20th anniversary. If you aren’t familiar with The CBJ Foundation, they are the charitable, philanthropic force behind the CBJ, and they are truly a force to be reckoned with. When the team joined the NHL in 2000, founder John McConnell “Mr. Mac” was insistent on creating the CBJ Foundation. His deep-rooted belief in the importance of giving back to the community drove the immediate development of the foundation. Since the team’s inception, the Foundation has given more than $11.6 million to the central Ohio community. Sadly, John McConnell passed away in 2008, but his legacy of giving continues today through the efforts of his son, John P. McConnell and the CBJ Foundation.
Katie Matney, the CBJ Foundation’s Executive Director was kind enough to find time in her remarkably busy schedule to chat with LoveAmongUs.com about the Foundation’s mission and goals. With an overall goal to support meaningful change right here in central Ohio, what impressed me the most from our conversation was the number of organizations the CBJ Foundation supports, and all the events they host to reach their goals. With a staff of only 2 ½ employees, the CBJ Foundation maintains a detailed playbook for great success!
To support meaningful change, the CBJ Foundation researches areas where help is greatly needed and supports organizations that are set up to combat community struggles. Establishing a mission to be dedicated to the health and wellness of children in central Ohio, a decision was made to focus on 4 key areas: Pediatric Cancer, Reading, Fitness Through Play, and the Growth and Development of Amateur Hockey.
To accomplish their mission, The Foundation receives financial support through club sponsors, fan donations and on-going fundraising events. CBJ players contribute by participating in these events, visiting hospitals, and signing merchandise. It is overwhelming to showcase all the different ways the CBJ Foundation has helped support change in central Ohio, but to summarize, here are a few of their highlights:
In the area of Reading (literacy and education), the CBJ Foundation:
In the areas of Fitness Through Play, and the Growth and Development of Amateur Hockey, the CBJ Foundation:
In the area of Pediatric Cancer, the CBJ Foundation has invested more than $3 million into pediatric cancer programs and research since 2000.
Giving During the Pandemic
Like most organizations, the pandemic greatly affected the CBJ’s ability to give back to the community. Since in-person gatherings were not permitted and initially, games were not played, fundraisers, raffles, and community visits were all canceled. The CBJ Foundation got creative, finding new ways to raise funds. They reached out to the club’s corporate sponsors for help. Last November 30th, on Giving Tuesday, the CBJ Foundation kicked off a Spirit of Giving Campaign that went through the month of December. Each week, the Campaign featured one of the CBJ grant partners and the work it was doing in central Ohio, especially for those vulnerable populations that were greatly impacted by COVID-19. Fortunately, through the help of fan donations and generous sponsors, the CBJ Foundation was able to continue supporting the organizations that support their mission.
While the CBJ Foundation manages the financial side of giving, CBJ players also donate their time to support many other great community events including Visits to Children’s Hospital, Photo shoots with Pediatric Cancer “Heroes," and Player Day of Service
Click here to read more about the Club’s Community Initiatives., or here for the detailed 2019-20 Community Report.
During the 2002-03 season, Tyler Wright’s exceptional participation in community events led to him receiving the first ever CBJ Community MVP award. Since then, the CBJ recognizes a player each year for outstanding community service. The most recent winner of the MVP award was Boone Jenner. Jenner, along with teammate Seth Jones, teamed up throughout the 2019-20 season to provide a unique game night experience to Nationwide Children's Hospital families, offering a distraction from the challenging circumstances confronting them. The families received game tickets, food & beverage vouchers and specially designed CBJ hats, as well as the opportunity to meet both players after the game.
Additionally, Jenner supported the partnership between the Blue Jackets and Nationwide Children's Hospital as the spokesman for the club's bike helmet safety program, which provides thousands of kids with bike helmets in fittings. He also donates his time to numerous Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation initiatives including visiting with patients at Nationwide Children's Hospital during the holidays.
Jenner has also given back to his community in his hometown of Dorchester, Ontario by hosting free hockey camps for boys and girls ages 10-11 during the summer.
Click here for information on all the CBJ Community MVP recipients and to watch the video of Boone receiving his award.
CBJ Lady Jackets The Lady Jackets are the wives and girlfriends of team players, coaches and hockey operations staff who raise awareness, through their own efforts, for charitable organizations around Columbus, including the CBJ Foundation. One example of their efforts is their annual “Lady Jackets Favorite Things Basket Auction” to which all the proceeds go to the Foundation. The baskets are typically filled with signed CBJ jerseys or sticks, gift cards to local restaurants, or memberships to places like the Columbus Zoo. Each year, the event has raises between $9,000 and $35,000.
Other CBJ Giving - Outside the CBJ Foundation
The Tortorella Family Foundation / Hockey & Hounds
Coach John Tortorella is another strong believer in “Giving Back.” The TFF (Tortorella Family Foundation) has provided a non-profit venue for Christine Tortorella, an author of children’s books and music, to reach out to more children and educators, and now has a storybook section on its website which shares the storybooks and music, free to children everywhere (in English and Spanish audio versions).
Additionally, John and Christine have both made great connections with people and organizations that provide for neglected and abused animals by providing food, shelter, medical/vet care, foster/adoption services, and spay/neutering services. John and Christine’s two adult children are also very involved in the efforts to make a difference. Their family has always had a great love for animals! The foundation works to help provide support to some of the animals that fall through the ‘cracks’ of the system with the Next Step initiative, The Way Home and Bear’s Angels programs. They work in partnership with several great organizations and individuals to provide support to those helping in very often crisis situations of critical need. You can learn more about The Tortorella Foundation at https://www.tortorellafoundation.org
Hockey & Hounds
Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan, in Columbus, Ohio, combines forces with Columbus Blue Jackets’ head coach John Tortorella to showcase shelter animals in their weekly segment “Hockey & Hounds with Torts.”. A variety of Hockey & Hounds T-shirts can be purchased to help support pet adoptions, community volunteering and charitable efforts. 100% of the proceeds goes directly to The Tortorella Family Foundation. Donations stay in the great state of Ohio, helping those who directly impact the lives of animals and children. To purchase shirts, visit https://whereimfrom.com/product/hockey-hounds-2-0-navy-tee/
The CBJ Gives Back
After reading all the different ways the CBJ gives back and knowing that this article is just a very small summary of all their outreach activities, the next time someone mentions The Columbus Blue Jackets, “hockey” may still be the first thing that comes to mind, but hopefully, your second thought will be the CBJ Gives Back!
Watch 20 Years of Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation.
There are so many companies today whose mission is not just to grow and profit themselves, but also to make a difference in our world. When I shop, I make a conscious effort to support either a family owned, small business, or a larger business who gives back. Here are just a few of the companies I have supported.
Yoobi makes colorful and fun school supplies. Through their partnership with the Kids in Need Foundation, for every item purchased, yoobi donates a school supply item to a child in need here in the U.S. To date, yoobi has donated nearly 75 million supplies which has impacted over 5 million kids and over 187 thousand classrooms.
Shady Rays makes quality polarized sunglasses. In partnership with Feeding America, they donate 10 meals to fight hunger in America with every order! They have already provided over 10 million meals and continue to donate thousands of meals every day through food banks across the country.
Honest Co. is a wellness brand founded by actress Jessica Alba, that makes trusted and effective products for your family, your home and for yourself. Honest Co. has a strong social goodness standard which leads to their generous donations and participation in many acts of community service. They also partner with Baby2Baby to provide millions of diapers, clothing and basic necessities to low-income families.
4Ocean leads a global ocean clean-up operation and supports a movement to end the world's reliance on single-use plastic. For every 4Ocean product that is purchased, the company pulls a pound of trash from the ocean, rivers and coastlines. To date, 4Ocean has recovered nearly 12 MILLION pounds of trash.
Love Your Melon was founded on a mission to improve the lives of children battling cancer with the simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. To date, Love Your Melon has given 7.2 Million dollars to for pediatric cancer research and over 200,000 hats to children battling cancer.
They give 50% of net profits to nonprofit organizations around the world that fight against pediatric cancer.
Since it’s inception, Build-A-Bear Foundation has donated more than $20 million in grants, partnerships, and in-kind donations
Since 2016, they have donated more than 307,000 bears.
More than 700 nonprofit organizations have received Build-A-Bear Foundation grants.
More than 1000 nonprofit organizations and charities have received in kind donations.
Finally, we can't have an article about companies who give back without mentioning Amazon. Its online availability for almost any product, combined with affordable pricing and quick shipping make it a shopping choice for many of us. Which is why it's great to know, Amazon is a company who gives back. Not only does Amazon donate millions of dollars and products to charities worldwide through their Amazon Smile program, they allow you to choose the organization you would like your purchase to support! Through the AmazonSmile program, Amazon has donated more than $237 million globally for charities as of November 2020.
The world is full of Everyday Heroes. Make tomorrow YOUR day to change someone's life.
There's no question 2020 has been a trying year for most of us. We've suffered through a long stretch of bad events where each on its own would be life-changing. To experience all of them in one year has been devastating.
The Pandemic has created stress for everyone. As our families hunker down in quarantine, medical professionals have been on the front line battling a war. Since hospitals could not allow visitors, patients were dying without having loved ones with them. Unemployment reached all-time highs with small businesses and the self employed left without ways to support themselves.
Political Unrest - As states nervously began opening up businesses with precautions to social distance and wear masks, controversy started regarding masks. Even though there are laws about wearing seat belts, helmets, and shirts & shoes in public, encouragement to wear masks in order to stop the spread of disease and enable businesses to stay open went too far for some people. Since our president would not wear a mask in public, the ideas of wearing a mask and the overall seriousness of the virus became political issues. Immediately people took sides and the situation got ugly, all for a precaution that enables us to move forward.
In addition to the pandemic, we've had natural disasters too. There were devastating tornadoes in Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. There's been extreme flooding in Michigan and many of our southern states. Around the world we've seen earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, fires, and volcanoes that have all been deadly.
And if all that isn't enough, we've had protests and rioting from the murder of George Floyd. What started as an inconceivable act from a Minnesota police officer, became a Black Lives Matter message that has been heard across the globe. Although most have been peaceful protests, some protesting developed into lots of yelling, lots of destruction, tear gas, frustration, anger, confusion . . . Hate.
So where is love in all of this?
LoveAmongUs.com has shared many stories about love during the pandemic. There's been stories about people delivering food to those who couldn't get out or didn't have the means to buy food due to job loss. There are countless stories about medical professionals sitting with Corona patients who were scared and had no family to be with them. There are stories about restaurants honoring medical professionals by bringing them meals, and cities applauding doctors and nurses as they finished their shifts. Love has definitely been prevalent as we've lived through Covid-19.
But what about the protests? Where could there possibly be love there?
If you think about it, the whole reason for protesting is love. It's about seeing an injustice and caring enough to protest against it. The act of peaceful protesting in honor of George Floyd is an act of love. People who never knew George, have protested against the actions that led to his murder. "Black Lives Matter" has drawn protesters who are not just African American, it's drawn White, Asian, Latino, Indian, older people, children, etc. These protests, about police brutality and race, have been supported by the Human Race - people all coming together against police brutality and to insist that Black Lives Matter. Ultimately, these actions will result in much needed change. That is Love.
And in the midst of the protests, there were many acts of kindness - so many that the Today show ran a story on it (See Video). Time and time again we saw where love, through acts of kindness rather than force, resulted in positive change. Below are some of the stories not seen on Today:
Although 2020 is now over, we are seeing Corona virus cases surge again. The Election season, brought more political division than ever before. Unusual climate changes continue to destroy communities . We're going to need love to get through this. In a world where you can be anything, please choose to be kind. Choose Love.