The annual Lethbridge Hurricanes Tap and Teddy Toss is always a fan favorite and is often circled on the calendar weeks in advance. However, this anniversary year, the demand is greater than ever from community organizations for the game to benefit.
Friday’s 25th edition of the event is the first since 2019, when nearly 3,600 plush toys rained down on the ice, and the club says demand for toys and touches is higher than ever this year.
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“Once the game happens and we collect the bears and touches, they go to a lot of charities in our community,” said Hurricanes broadcast and communication manager Dustin Forbes.
“This year we need a lot more donations than we have received in the past, without having the game for two years.”
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In years past, a group of Hurricanes players have always traveled to Chinook Regional Hospital to hand out bears following the game. And although the event is seasonal, hospital staff say it benefits children throughout the year.
Between 400 and 600 bears are given to patients a year, and the supply is running low, and the pediatric unit has been reduced to fewer than 50 stuffed animals.
The club doesn’t expect to get anywhere near its 2007 record of 21,905 bears, but Forbes said the hope is that they can surpass their recent average of around 3,500.
“We would like to have about 4,500 bears if possible, and I think we need about 1,000 touches,” he said.
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Everything collected on the ice is divided between 15 community organizations, including Lethbridge Family Services’ “Angel Tree” campaign.
Lethbridge Family Services Director of Advancement and Communications Michelle Gallucci said that while the first COVID-19 Christmas presented many challenges, the situation before this holiday season is even more dire.
“The lawsuit took us by surprise,” Gallucci said.
“We think that last year it was really critical, this year it is more so. We have more than 3,000 children, we are at our best right now, and we also want to give each child something warm and cuddly. “
There are still plenty of tickets available for Friday night’s showdown with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Fans are asked to put donations into individual clear plastic bags to keep the bears clean and dab when they hit the ice.
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