High school hockey team volunteers to help Michiana veterans

Published: Sep. 24, 2023 at 9:28 PM EDT
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - We count on our service men and women to serve us, but on Sunday, a group of local hockey players took it upon themselves to serve those who have served us.

They say many hands make light work, and off Red Arrow Highway, the Lakeshore/St. Joseph Warriors High School hockey team took a break from “sniping goals” to go “bar down” on community service.

“We were painting, mowing the lawn, trimming down the overgrown hedges, painting window frames, picking up trash, all that good stuff, so just picking up all around the house, whatever we could do to help these people out,” said LSJ Warriors Varsity hockey player Andy Barlow.

They partnered with Berrien County Veterans Services to help local veterans who are in need.

“We got contacted by the Lakeshore/St. Joseph Warriors hockey team asking for volunteer opportunities,” said Maureen Adams, Berrien County Veterans Services director. “They wanted to help veterans and are trying to develop character in their players. What a great organization and what a great coach for teaching them how to be good community partners.”

About 20 Varsity hockey players brought lawn and gardening tools from home to help out U.S. Army Veteran William “Bill” Gesse, who served in the 34th Engineers Battalion B Company in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969.

“To get out in the community and help these people out that need help, obviously, when they can’t do it themselves, we want to come out here and do our best to help them out,” Barlow said.

Gesse says he’s used to helping others but not to others helping him.

“I know that the good lord has a lot of angels, but I didn’t know he was going to send so many here today to help me,” said U.S. Army Veteran William “Bill” Gesse.” I just praise the lord for it, and I thank the lord for everything you all did today.”

Since Gesse’s wife moved into a nursing home two and a half years ago, keeping up with the house has become impossible for the veteran, who has difficulty with mobility.

If you or a loved one is a veteran living in Berrien County, Berrien County Veterans Services has many programs and benefits for veterans.

“If you’re a veteran that needs help, let us know,” Adams said. “It’s our mission to help you, so give us a chance. And if you want to help a veteran, we will help connect you.”

The Lakeshore/St. Joseph Warriors JV team will volunteer next weekend to help another local veteran.

Sherwin-Williams of Benton Harbor donated the paint for the project.