HARTFORD, Conn. --- The UConn men's basketball team took time out from the 2015-16 season Saturday to bring some Christmas cheer to children and needy families in Hartford.
The UConn players and coaches made a visit to the Northwest Boys & Girls Club to have some basketball fun as well as participate in arts and crafts with some 200 children and their families.
"We want to thank you for allowing us to come here and visit with you all," UConn coach Kevin Ollie told the crowd. "Basketball is what we do, but this is who we are. We love to be part of our community."
The Huskies teamed with the law firm of RisCassi & Davis and the Big Y grocery store chain for the event, which was organized by Gold, Orluk & Partners. It is the third consecutive year that Ollie and the team have brought some holiday joy to Hartford and the second year that it has been held at the Northwest Boys & Girls Club. More than 75 families, all with children of age 11 and younger, were invited to the event.
Soon after their arrival in Hartford, the Huskies split into groups, with some heading into the gym to teach some basketball skills and others moving to the arts and crafts room to show their creative skills. Meanwhile, Ollie and a few of the players gathered up some presents and went to visit the homes of some of the neighborhood's neediest families.
Later, after Ollie had addressed the audience and he and the players fielded questions, everyone joined in a pizza party. The evening ended with each family going home with a Christmas tree, a Husky ornament, toys for each child in the family, and a $50 gift certificate from Big Y World Class Markets.
"This is great for us, all our players get really excited about it," Ollie said. "You think you're giving a gift, but you're really getting a gift."