Gulls Provide Meals for Hospital Workers

San Diego's pro hockey club is also paying salaries for employees who are not working due to the coronavirus pandemic

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The San Diego Gulls have long been active in the San Diego community. That’s not stopping because they can’t be on the ice during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We see who’s on the front lines. These nurses, these doctors, these hospital workers. They’re literally putting their lives on the line so how can we help out a little bit?” said Matt Savant, Gulls President of Business Operations. “Also, we have a lot of partners we’ve worked with the last five years here in San Diego. Local food vendors, local restaurants, and we thought let’s bring the two together.”

The Gulls went to five local restaurants … Surf Side Deli, Dino’s Gyros Greek Café and Taverna, Cali Comfort BBQ, Rockin’ Baja Lobster, and Chipotle … and bought nearly 800 meals then had them taken to five San Diego County hospitals, following all the CDC guidelines for food preparation and delivery.

It’s a gesture that helps local restaurants that have seen a dip in revenue and lets health care professionals know how much the franchise appreciates what they do.

“A few dollars to help these true heroes on the front lines at the hospital and to make their day or their job a little bit easier,” said Savant. “They don’t have to worry about a meal and they know it’s been prepared safely. We worked with our local partners to make sure the gloves and masks were worn. Everything is done to the proper specifications so that we’re keeping as many people healthy and safe as possible.”

The organization purchased meals for four of the hospitals. The Gulls players jumped in to take care of the fifth. All it took was the club to send a message to Captain Sam Carrick describing what the plan was.

“Within 24 hours we had thousands of dollars raised from our players,” said Savant. “All of our players opened up their personal checkbooks and wrote a check to the San Diego Gulls Foundation. We used that money to purchase the meals so this is not just coming from the Gulls and the Foundation this is really coming from our players.”

Carrick helped organize the players’ donations from his home in Canada.

“We’re so lucky to play in a place like San Diego where we’re supported so well,” said Carrick. “There’s such a high passion for hockey there. We’ve been supported through thick and thin as long as I’ve been here so any time we can give back to the community and help them out any way we can we’re always happy to do that.”

It’s not just the Gulls Foundation or players who are doing good things in the community. The tone is set from the top down. Henry and Susan Samueli, owners of the Gulls and Anaheim Ducks, are going to pay for all 2,100 part-time employees of their sports and event management companies will be paid for any rescheduled, postponed or canceled events through June 30.

“It’s relief because they’re all facing the same thing we all are, which is, how is my family? Are we going to be safe? Are we going to be financially available to continue on in this manner?” said Savant. “So, when an owner steps up and says instead of going the other direction we’re going to pay you, that’s an amazing gesture. It’s not something you see very day and it makes me very proud to work for this company and be associated with the Samuelis, the Ducks and the Gulls.”

As for whether or not there will be any more hockey this season … and the Gulls would likely be in the playoffs if there is … San Diego hockey fans will have to follow the lead of the National Hockey League.

“As the NHL players are preparing to play a regular season and the playoffs the AHL, as the support system, has to be ready as well,” said Savant. “Our players are at home training but as soon as we hopefully get some good news we’ll follow the rules and get everybody back. I do miss hockey. I hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

The NHL has looked into playing games deeper into the summer, perhaps even playoff games in September.

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