During their recent long homestand, the Youngstown Phantoms kept busy off the ice giving back to the community.
Members of the USHL hockey team served food at the St. Vincent DePaul Society, read to children at the Girard Free Library, visited residents at the Greenbriar assisted living facility and visited patients at Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman.
Luke Stork, Zach Evancho, Lukas Klok, Josh Melnick, Tyler Spezia, Josh Nenadal and Kyle Mackey helped prepare and serve a meal at St. Vincet DePaul Society on Front Street in downtown Youngstown.
At the Girard library, Kiefer Sherwood, Tommy Parran and Matt Miller read to children and offered an informal education session about hockey.
“Hopefully, they like it enough so they can come to a couple of games this year,” Sherwood said.
Alfred Larsson, Truman Reed, Sean Romeo, and Trey Bradley visited Greenbriar for a question-and-answer session and equipment demonstration.
“It’s so much fun to meet new people, see them get a smile on their face,” Larsson said.
Gina Fernback, Greenbriar Activity Director, called the visit “really special to us. We have a large group of men here that really appreciate sports.”
Reed says the players enjoy making a connection.
“It’s really fun to get to meet new people in the community, to get to know our fans, and feel a little more connected with them,” Reed said.
Larsson, Stork, Evancho, and Spezia made the hospital visit at Spezia’s request.
“Some of these kids have been dealt a bad hand, so it was nice to be able to go out there, talk to them,” Spezia said.
The visit inspired memories for Larsson.
“I stayed at a hospital for four weeks when I was 7 years old, so I know how tough it can be to be here,” said Larsson, a native of Sweden. “It’s just great to come out here, put a smile on the kids’ faces, and brighten up their day.”
The team brought along signed sticks and pucks as gifts.
“It was a truly humbling experience, because the kids don’t deserve what they’re going through,” Evancho said. “Anything we can do to make their day a little brighter is an awesome experience.”