The Salvation Army and Penticton Vees want to see it rain teddy bears in the South Okanagan Events Centre Dec. 14.
That’s the day the Vees, who host the Mainland Division-leading Chilliwack Chiefs, have their Teddy Bear Toss, and fans are encouraged to bring a stuffed teddy, new or gently used, to throw when the Vees score their first goal. All of them will go back to local children.
“Literally there are families that wouldn’t have presents under the tree if it wasn’t for our partners like the Vees and the Teddy Bear toss,” said supervisor for community and family services for the Salvation Army, Joey Cyr. “It makes a Christmas for someone.”
Last year the Salvation Army handed out approximately 500 teddy bears to families.
“We have had letters written to us from families saying how it enabled them to have a Christmas, just how much they appreciated the generosity of our community,” said Cyr, adding that they appreciate the Vees’ willingness to support the cause. “People making someone else’s Christmas special.”
Fraser Rodgers, director of broadcasting and media relations for the Vees, said this game is circled on most fans’ calendars.
“It’s helping families’ kids this time of year that maybe can’t get a lot of presents from Santa,” said Rodgers. “It’s fun because you see a lot of stuffed toys raining down on the ice. When the Vees score the goal, not only do fans have something to cheer about, they are doing something very charitable and putting a smile on a kids’ face.”
The event is also fun for the players as they strive to net that coveted goal.
Last year it was defenceman Paul Stoykewich, who sent toys raining down onto the SOEC surface. This year, Rodgers, also the play-by-play broadcaster of the Vees, is predicting Dakota Conroy will make it rain teddy’s and toys.
“He’s has had a few chances lately,” said Rodgers. “I’ve been told he might have a pretty good celebration in store. Might bust out a good post-goal teddy bear toss celebration. That’s why I want to see him score. Maybe do something pretty funny on the ice.”
Rodgers wasn’t the only person to jump on Conroy’s bandwagon. Vees assistant captain Steen Cooper is picking his teammate after himself, of course.
Vees co-captain Cody DePourcq said he is looking forward to fun night and a big crowd. DePourcq, who has never collected the coveted tally, chose Patrick Newell to get it if he can’t.
Fans are also encouraged to stick around after Sunday’s game, which starts at 3 p.m., for a holiday themed skate with the Vees. There will be coffee and hot chocolate provided by Riverside Starbucks.