Scoring as a Volunteer

Amy Larson believes in “giving back” to the community. Whether it’s organizing 150 youth hockey players for a volunteer activity – or rallying her own family to assist a woman who lives alone, she tackles each task with a strong sense of pride and commitment. “I just think it’s important to be a part of the community and do what you can to improve it,” says Amy, who works as a client representative at Blue Cross-Blue Shield. “We get caught up in our own lives and don’t consider what we can do for someone else. Two hours of my time might mean a great deal to another individual.”

As a member of Apple Valley’s Youth Hockey Association’s Board of Directors, Amy says they began considering volunteer opportunities for the young skaters four years ago.  “A few of the teams had done individual community service projects in the past, and we wanted to expand that into an ongoing program that would not only promote team building, but also help people in need,” Amy says. “I knew that DARTS organized a fall clean-up that matches volunteers with seniors who need help raking leaves, trimming bushes, or any other kind of yard work.” Since then, the Apple Valley traveling hockey teams, from 3rd grade through high school, work as DARTS volunteers in the fall. Each team is assigned a homeowner, and they work together to rake and clean up the yards. “I just felt like these kids were privileged to be able to play hockey, and this is something they could do to give back,” Amy explains. “Plus at the end of the day, they can actually see what they’ve accomplished and how they’ve helped someone.”

DARTS also provides spring clean-up, but members of the hockey teams are already separated, so Amy offered her family as a “team.” Along with her husband and two teenage children, she began raking leaves four years ago for Jackie, a senior who lives alone in Apple Valley. The Larson family soon found a “connection” to Jackie through a friend of Amy’s daughter, and a spring clean-up developed into an ongoing relationship that has come “full circle. “We helped my grandmother out in many ways before she passed away six years ago,” Amy says. “Meeting Jackie has filled that void somehow, and it’s nice to have someone else we can help. She will call us if she needs anything, and she has even attended some of our children’s hockey games. They think of her as extended family.” 

Amy isn’t on the hockey Board of Directors this year, but she continues to organize the DARTS volunteer efforts. She also has plans to get her son’s lacrosse team involved with next spring’s clean-up. She says that people are very appreciative. The best part is when someone tells her, “If it wasn’t for DARTS, I wouldn’t be able to stay in my home.”

By Patrice Peterson, Freelance Writer and DARTS Volunteer