Raycroft offers food for thought

Raptors community representative Jerome Williams shows he hasn't lost his shooting touch as he and...

Raptors community representative Jerome Williams shows he hasn't lost his shooting touch as he and Maple Leafs goaltender Andrew Raycroft lend a hand at the Daily Bread Food Bank on Tuesday. (Toronto Sun/Stan Behal)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

Life could not be much better for Andrew Raycroft.

The Maple Leafs goaltender has made people forget he fell off the hockey wagon in Boston last season and has been one of the club's stars in the early stages after signing a three-year, $6-million US deal during the summer.

Off the ice, the Belleville native and his fiance, Erin, are planning their wedding next summer.

But Raycroft is well aware of those who are not as fortunate. While his teammates had yesterday off, Raycroft was at the Daily Bread Food Bank in Etobicoke to help kick off the Purolator Food Drive Challenge in conjunction with the Leafs and Raptors.

"It's a good time of year to help people out," the 26-year-old said. "Food banks are as good a cause as any."

Fans who attend the game between the Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at the Air Canada Centre and the game between the Leafs and Boston Bruins on Saturday are being asked to bring non-perishable food items. For those nights, those who donate three items or $5 at the Raptors game can have their picture taken with Jerome Williams; those who do the same at the Leafs game can pose with Wendel Clark.

Fans can donate food items or cash at all Leafs and Raptors home games for the rest of November. Purolator will match all food and cash donations.

CHILDREN

The Daily Bread Food Bank served more than 900,000 people last year, of which 38% were children. And some who work everyday jobs had to rely on the food bank as well.

"It's scary to think that people have to work all day and still can't afford to have food on the table are worried paycheque to paycheque," Raycroft said. "I'm very fortunate I haven't (had to rely on food banks in his life). I am a lucky one, for sure."

Being in the public eye extends far beyond the playing surface in any professional sport in Toronto, but Raycroft knows there is something extra with being a Leaf and he knows he can help make a difference.

"It is something else I am still trying to get used to as well," Raycroft said. "Being in Boston, (the Bruins were) not like the Red Sox, going to the local hospitals. It was a much bigger deal if they did that or it was the (New England) Patriots. But you can also take a cause and jump-start it more than you could in other places."

Importantly for Raycroft, he is settling into life in Toronto on the whole. There's something to be said for playing in his home province, and so far he is enjoying himself.

"As a pro, it's the most comfortable I have felt," Raycroft said. "I am happy the team is doing well, we have a great group of guys and the coaching staff is great. It's just a lot of fun going to the rink."


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