Thanksgiving has come and gone, so now the season of turkey will be taken over by the season of giving! Businesses and individuals alike begin their food/toy drives, charity fundraisers, and various programs to benefit those who are in need of a helping hand this holiday season. Your Toledo Walleye are no exception to the practice, as one of the best weekends of the season is almost here. Get loosened up T-Town, because it’s time for the Teddy Bear Toss!
In case you are unaware of what a teddy bear toss is, let me bring you up to speed. Whenever the home team scores it’s first goal of the game, the fans proceed to throw brand new teddy bears/ stuffed animals onto the ice to be collected for charity. The charities are selected by the team hosting the event, and can be either national entities like the Salvation Army or local charities. The charities in turn give the bears to children as presents, when they are apart of distressing situations. Hockey teams at the junior, ECHL, and AHL level all participate across the US and Canada, with hundreds of thousands of teddy bears having been donated. One team has made a name for themselves due to the amount of bears they are able to donate: The Calgary Hitmen. A junior team in the Western Hockey League, the Hitmen set the record for most teddy bears donated in a single night when their fans threw 28,815 bears onto the ice during their December 6, 2015 game. That’s a lot of kids that got a boost for the holidays!
Your Toledo Walleye have made the toss an annual event at the Huntington Center, one that has quickly become a fan favorite. Five local organizations receive the bears so that they may give them to those in need, and they are:
- Aurora House
- Family House
- Lucas and Wood County Children’s Services
- Toledo Police and Fire Department
- Salvation Army of NW Ohio
Here’s an example of when a child might receive one of these bears:
Imagine that a family’s house catches fire and the family is outside watching their home burn before them. Obviously a horrible situation for all involved, which will undoubtedly leave the children distraught. One of the ways that a firefighter can help console the kids is to give them one of these teddy bears. A small token of kindness that can do wonders to help the child cope with the current situation in the moment, and moving forward.
So you can see how this is a wonderful thing to provide for a family, and it’s not just for families unfortunate enough to have a fire at their home. Children who may be involved in a car accident, victim of some sort of crime, or who may otherwise not receive a gift during the holidays are all eligible to be gifted a bear by the responding personnel or relief organization.
Each year the fans have donated more and more stuffed animals, with the highest amount being donated after last seasons event. The final count for the 2016 Teddy Bear Toss was 3,026. This year’s goal has been set at 10,000 bears, with Coach Watson voicing his encouragement for even more than that via Twitter:
Considering the Huntington Center has sold out every home game this season with crowds of over 8,000, this is an extremely realistic goal! We have an amazingly passionate fan base that has already contributed so much via raffles and auctions, let’s do it through bears this time! If each person bring two bears we are already at 16,000. Say everyone brings one bear and half the crowd brings two bears, you have 12,000 bears to blow by the goal set and help out a lot of families. Let’s show the league that we have the best fans in the league by collecting the most bears of any ECHL team! The most important part about these stuffed animals is that they need to be brand new with the tags, so be sure to drop by a store before you head to the game. You can also keep them in a plastic bag to toss the whole package over the glass, but that is optional. Also, it can be any size stuffed animal or teddy bear, so if you can manage to bring in and throw a Costco sized teddy bear then by all means go for it!
Saturday will also have two other events that are raising money. Prior to the Walleye game the Toledo Police and Fire Departments will be playing their annual hockey game against each other at the Huntington Center, and buying tickets to that game allows you to donate a portion to one of the departments. Later that day when the Walleye take over, a raffle will be conducted in order to support local Officer Jason Picking. A detective for the TPD on the vice narcotics unit, Detective Picking was struck in the jaw by a round fired by a suspect during a drug raid in West Toledo. The money raised by the raffle will go to supporting him and his family.
As you can see, Saturday is going to be quite a busy day for Downtown Toledo! We have the ability to help out a lot of families over the holidays, so let’s make the most of it and get in the spirit of giving. The puck drops for the TPD vs TFD game at 3:30 p.m., while the Walleye will take the ice against the Indy Fuel at 7:15 p.m. See you there Toledo, time to set a teddy bear toss record!
For more information about the events taking place at the Huntington Center on Saturday, December 2nd feel free to follow the links below: