By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
During the winter, the Fredonia State hockey team packs Steele Hall for their SUNYAC contests.
Members of the Fredonia State hockey team went around Northern Chautauqua County on?Saturday and helped senior citizens with yard work. Pictured from left are Marc Deeley, a sophomore forward from Rochester and Joyce Haines of Fredonia.
The only thing they need to delight the fans are hockey sticks, ice skates and a puck.
On Saturday, the Blue Devils traded in their hockey equipment for rakes, shovels, edgers and paint brushes.
Coach Jeff Meredith and his players spent Saturday afternoon helping senior citizens in the area.
Players went to homes throughout Northern Chautauqua County. From painting fences and decks, to trimming bushes, to installing smoke detectors and edging sidewalks, there was no job too big or too small the Blue Devils didn't do.
"When Jeff first called me about his community outreach project, I knew the area seniors would be very appreciative to have assistance with yard work," Janine Smith of the Fredonia Grape Belt Senior Center said. "I submitted about 20 individuals from Fredonia, Dunkirk, Silver Creek and Westfield who needed assistance with work around their homes."
"I thought about my grandparents," Meredith continued on how he got the idea. "When they were alive they always had things to do when I would come over. A lot of people don't have anyone to help them."
Thanks to the hockey team, more than 20 residents had someone who could help for a day.
"I visited them all to find out what they wanted done," Meredith said. "I think it's the first time we have really got out into the community. We have had numerous community services where the community comes to us - Pink the Rink or Skate with the Blue Devils to donate cans. I think it's great. For four years our kids come through our program and become part of the community, but now they get out and become contributing members to the community.
"It's great for our program," Meredith concluded. "Our kids will get a lot out of helping the community."
Not only were the senior citizens thankful, so too were Smith and Ellman.
"I can't praise Coach Jeff enough for undertaking this project for his hockey team and especially his attention to all the details," Smith said. "It is a big undertaking. One lady (Meredith) visited asked 'how much she should pay them' and Jeff told her 'nothing - just have some cold drinks!'"
Fredonia resident Joyce Haines enjoyed her experience with two players from the team.
"The boys are really sweet kids and did a really great job,"?she said.?"They came over at 8:30 am. and worked til 1 p.m. They came back at 2 p.m. and worked some more.?They said they would come back next Saturday. I made them brownies."
Haines said she feels obliged to attend a game at Steele Hall this winter.
"I have never been to a hockey game at the college,"?she admitted. "I would love to go see these guys play. They brought me a schedule so I most certainly will go see them. I wil have them over for dinner soon."