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Pennsauken, NJ (11/15/16)- The families of the Virtua Hockey 16U American team rallied together this past weekend to donate money to help support veterans.

Zachary Rink, younger brother of 16U American goaltender Kyle Rink, began raising money last year for NHS Fresh Start, an initiative to help get veterans off the street and back to work. Zachary led the fundraising efforts in honor of Raymond Hainsworth, a neighbor of the Rink family and World War II veteran who passed away last year.

This year, the Virtua Hockey team bonded together to help raise money for the cause around Veterans Day weekend. The team raised $753 in one weekend to help support this great cause.

Thank you to the Rink family and the team for working together to help a great cause!

For more information about Zachary and his initial efforts, read this original article from the Washington Township School District:

 

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School Fifth-Grader Devotes Time, Donates Money to Homeless Veterans Organization

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – A school presentation about the problems endured by homeless veterans certainly stuck with Thomas Jefferson Elementary School fifth-grader Zachary Rink. As part of his ELEMEnTS (Elementary Learners Engaged in Mathematics, Engineering, new Technologies and Science) program classwork with teacher Chris Janeczko, Rink and his classmates were asked to write a fictional story centered on a homeless veteran. They did research in class, had a guest speaker who spent a week living on the streets with the homeless, and listened to a webcast from a representative of the Support Homeless Veterans organization.

Zachary was angered and upset that so many veterans were homeless, even though they had given so much of their time to serve our country. After some discussion with his mother, Vicki, Zachary decided that, instead of running a hot chocolate stand, as originally planned, he could reach a larger audience by making reindeer out of the ingredients for hot chocolate and selling those as gifts.

Zachary and Vicki originally made just a few reindeer, calling friends and relatives and putting a post on Facebook to see if they would sell. Orders quickly started pouring in, Vicki said, and everyone who heard started calling and texting, asking to purchase reindeer to support Zachary's cause. His original goal was to raise $50, but within two weeks he had raised more than $250.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Zachary said. “I really just wanted to help in whatever way I could, but we couldn’t keep up with all the requests.”

“We actually had to stop and turn down orders, as it was then two days before Christmas,” Vicki Rink said. “At that point, Zach vowed to start earlier next year and to recruit help in order to raise as much money as possible.”

After Christmas, the Rinks researched charities that support homeless veterans, and found Northwest Human Services (NHS) through a contact at Vicki’s husband's work. NHS has a multi-step approach – called “NHS Fresh Start” – to help get veterans off the street and back to work.

During this time, the Rink’s neighbor, Raymond Hainsworth, passed away. Zachary was very fond of Mr. Hainsworth, who was a World War II veteran, and so he decided to donate the funds in his memory.

After sending the money to NHS, the Rinks began receiving emails from the organization requesting more information about Zachary’s efforts.

“We explained where the money came from, and from there we started to receive beautiful letters of gratitude from the program, including a picture of some of the veterans in the program holding a banner thanking Zachary,” Vicki Rink said.

“Most people would say it’s amazing that an 11-year-old boy did this; however, we as veterans don’t see your age, we see your deed,” said Jeff Pittner, an Air Force veteran and the Executive Director of the NHS Fresh Start program, in a letter to Zachary. “The world needs more people like you to lead the way and remind us of what is really important.”

The Rinks were invited to attend a Donor Appreciation Breakfast on April 29th in Gladwyne, Pa., intended to thank donors giving $1,000 or more to the program. They surprised Zachary with a brand-new award – The Above and Beyond Award – that will be named for him in the future.

“NHS was so touched by Zachary's work that they wanted to thank and meet him in person,” Vicki Rink said. “We have been incredibly humbled by all of this, and so proud of Zachary. He heard of an injustice, and he took action.”

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