The Mahoning Valley Phantoms took some time off from preseason training on Thursday to give a little back to the community for the United Way’s 11th annual Day of Caring.
Phnatoms head coach and general manager Bob Mainhardt says that the team has good reason to be so committed to community service.
“Our organization has always played a very active part within the community. It’s important that we’re active in improving the quality of life in the Valley,” said Mainhardt. “These players know how supportive the Mahoning Valley has been to Phantom Hockey; they love any chance to give back and have a positive effect off the ice as well.”
The Day of Caring marks the beginning of the United Way’s 2008 annual campaign, in which local volunteer groups volunteer to assist local agencies for the day. This is the fifth year the Phantoms have participated in the Day of Caring, and this year the team volunteered to help out the Potential Development Program School for Autism in Youngstown.
The players spent the early part of the morning sitting in on classes and interacting with the students at the school before joining them on a field trip to the Boardman Park. At the park, the players helped the teaching staff lead the students on a nature hike. After the hike the team joined the students and teachers for lunch and some free time on the playground.
The team came away with a great experience from the day.
“How can you not have a great time doing this?” Phantoms defenseman John Houston asked with a smile.
The school’s staff was also thrilled with the Phantoms’ contributions on the Day of Caring.
“The Phantoms are the best group our school has worked with,” said Potential Development special education coordinator Marilyn Fielding, “and we're going to request to have them back again next year.”