WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There was more than one winner Saturday night at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
A budding partnership between the Penguins and a local non-profit is helping people in need score winter necessities. Mohegan Sun Arena wasn’t just an opportunity for Penguins fans to watch their team play. It was also a chance to give back and many rose to the occasion.
It was a fierce showdown on the ice between the Penguins and the Hartford Wolf Pack. But outside the arena, before the game began, fans were “checking” a different opponent: homelessness. Parked outside arena security, Keystone Mission collected winter items for their clients in need.
“You can just see the ease come upon their face when you can say to someone ‘here’s some clean socks. How about a new coat? That one is wet’,” John Griffin, facilities manager for Keystone Mission, said.
The non-profit spent about two hours outside collecting whatever generous donors handed them. There is a constant need for items like socks, scarves, and coats because most homeless people don’t have access to a washer or dryer if they get wet. Fans like Jackie Prescavage came prepared thanks to announcements at previous games.
“Now that I know it’s going to be here again, when I see things, I kind of try to buy them throughout the next couple months. Store them up, put them away,” Prescavage said.
Keystone also set up a table inside the arena to raise awareness. Colder days are bound to follow this January thaw, but volunteers at Keystone understand even mild winter days can be tough.
“50 degrees is cold when you’re out there in it, in the elements on a nightly basis,” volunteer Robert Thomas said.
The non-profit helped 65,000 people between its Scranton and Wilkes-Barre locations, relying solely on community support. Keystone Mission says working together is what will bring homelessness to an end.
“The need is there and we have the resources and we have the love that we have to show them that they don’t have to remain homeless,” Ryan Buchanan, director of development for Keystone Mission, said.
Keystone Mission will be back collecting donations at Mohegan Sun Arena during a Penguins game on March 20th. Keystone Mission is also selling “Red Zone” tickets for that March game against the Cleveland Monsters for just $15.
Proceeds go back to their mission to help those in need.