December 29, 2016 marked the second time Princeton Youth Hockey Association (PYHA) hosted a holiday skating party at ProSkate Ice Arena for the children served by HomeFront, an organization that strives to end homelessness in central New Jersey and break the cycle of poverty, and if possible, it was even more merry than the first. Of the approximately 40 children that attended the event, a handful raised their hands when Chris Marchetti who runs HomeFront’s Joys, Hopes & Dreams program asked who had been to last year’s event. A few of the PYHA players who attended last year’s event were also present this year. It wasn’t apparent if any of the kids remembered each other, but what was apparent was the quick camaraderie that developed between the two groups as they took the ice and started skating.

While this year’s party also included plenty of pizza, snacks and desserts like last year, there was something new this year that was added thanks to PYHA’s experience from last year’s skating party. “We noticed that last year a lot of the kids came to skate without any gloves,” said Kerry Kandel, manager of PYHA’s 14U A team. “One of the parents on our team had the idea to collect new hats and gloves so each child would be sure to have them while skating and throughout the winter. The team’s goal was to collect 50 pairs of gloves and 50 hats, and we’ve exceeded that number, and are happy to send the extras back to HomeFront to be used wherever necessary.”

After all the skates were unlaced, the empty pizza boxes stacked neatly beside the garbage, and the leftover desserts packaged up and sent along with the kids to HomeFront, Chris Marchetti gathered the children together for a big thank you to the PYHA players, parents and siblings for a day of skating and friendship, and Kevin Welsh, PYHA board president, presented each of the children from HomeFront with a Visa gift card.

“The PYHA sponsored skate with the children of HomeFront was a tremendous success, judging by the smiles on the faces of all who had a chance to participate,” said Welsh. “I look forward to PYHA maintaining and growing our commitment to being a service-oriented organization whenever and wherever possible in the coming year.”

Pictured from left to right: (back row) Zachary Kandel, Jacob Roitburg, John O’Donnell, Carson Skove, Will Kocsis, Jacob Papiez, Rushil Thummaluru, Sam Welsh, (front row) a friend from HomeFront, Mason Roitburg, Brendan Beatty, Emmy Gordon, Jack Gordon.