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Airdrie hockey players rake seniors' leaves on sprawling acreage

“The boys want to give back to the community – that’s one of our big initiatives this year."

The Airdrie Techmation Thunder didn’t have much time to rest on their laurels after their latest win.

Less than 10 hours after beating the Coaldale Copperheads 5-4 in a back-and-forth Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) game on the evening of Oct. 14, Airdrie’s junior B hockey players arose bright and early the following Saturday morning to rake leaves at a local senior couple's acreage on the east outskirts of town.

Shaun Guest, the team’s general manager, said roughly 15 members of the Thunder – including players and coaching staff – were up to the task on Saturday morning. From 9 a.m. until nearly 1 p.m., with only a 30-minute break for a hotdog lunch, the players and coaches worked together to clear Arnie and Bev Wilson’s 10-acre property of leaves.

He said the activity was designed as both a team-builder and community service.

“The boys want to give back to the community – that’s one of our big initiatives this year,” Guest said.

This wasn’t the first time Guest tasked a local hockey team with raking leaves at the Wilson’s property. Last year, when coaching the U18 AA boys’ Lightning, Guest’s players did the same thing in early October.

“I’ve done this with Bev and Arnie Wilson in the past. The boys went out and worked really hard. I think we finished three hours earlier than we did last year, so it was good," he said.

Guest's Lightning squad also took part in Community Links’ Snow Angels program in 2020. The snow-removal program pairs volunteers with a senior citizen who is unable to plow or shovel their driveway in the wintertime.

“We’re all about the community stuff, and I think we need to have a bigger presence in Airdrie, so that’s what we’re working towards,” Guest said.

Not able to rake his yard on his own anymore, Arnie Wilson said it was a “God-send” for the local hockey players to help out with his fall yard maintenance again this year.

The 83-year-old said he broke his hip last year and is also a polio and prostate cancer survivor.

“My poor wife has been trying to do it by herself [but] here’s a lot of trees here,” he said.

The octogenarian said he’s known Guest for some time, as they live across Yankee Valley Boulevard from each other. According to Wilson, Guest once witnessed his wife Bev attempting to rake the 10-acre property a few years ago. He came by the following fall to volunteer the services of his hockey team.

“The next year, he drove in my driveway, and said he’d like to teach the young fellas to give back to the community and help out where they can,” Wilson said. “He said, ‘How would you like us to come and rake the property?’ and I said, ‘Man, would that ever be a help.’

“He said as long as he’s the coach, he’s going to give us a helping hand.”

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