By RYAN MCCRACKEN on November 20, 2020.
There may be no Teddy Bear Toss this December, but fans of the Medicine Hat Tigers can still help make Christmas a little brighter for local families by participating in the Western Hockey League T’s for Toys campaign.
The initiative puts all 22 of the league’s mascots front and centre with their very own T-shirts. The shirts – all on sale at whl.entripyshirts.com/ts-for-toys – go for $20 each, with $7 from every sale going directly to a local charity in that mascot’s community, like Medicine Hat’s selection, the Santa Claus Fund.
“I think it’s a great initiative,” said Santa Claus Fund executive director Deanna Doerksen. “I think it’s something fun and it’s a way for people to still show their community spirit and get behind the Tigers – and make a difference for our local kids.”
Medicine Hat’s offering depicts Rroary the Tiger tugging along a sled full of toys. Tigers media services manager Adam Jones says the team had a hand in creating Rroary’s look for the shirt, and felt there was no better place to send the proceeds than the Santa Claus Fund.
“The Santa Claus Fund is one of those things that is close to our heart,” he said. “(T’s for Toys) doesn’t really have anything to do with there being no Teddy Bear Toss specifically, but it’s an organization that we wanted to support and we thought this was a great opportunity to raise some money for the Santa Claus Fund.”
And it comes at a time when help is needed most. The Santa Claus Fund provides low-income families with a full Christmas dinner and toys for their children. Fundraising, however, has been a challenge for the local charity throughout the pandemic, while at the same time, the number of families requiring assistance is well above average.
“The need this year is going to be substantial,” said Doerksen. “We have 472 families already with booked appointments for assistance for Christmas.”
Doerksen added the Tigers have always been a huge supporter of the Santa Claus Fund, with players often volunteering their time to help out at the Holiday Home, or handing out stuffed animals from the Teddy Bear Toss at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.
“The Tigers have always been phenomenal supporters of our organization, typically coming in to volunteer their time. They usually make a monetary donation as well,” she said. “They can’t be with us this year, and so it’s just another way for them to be able to touch our charity.”
T’s for Toys isn’t the only way to help out the Santa Claus Fund. Toy donations can be made to the Mountain of Toys at Medicine Hat Canadian Tire, while South Country Co-op will be collecting donations at its tills until Dec. 15, and the Santa Claus Fund’s charity auction is scheduled for Dec. 10 at DayzOff Pub.
“We will have the opportunity for people to come in person or they can participate via Zoom,” said Doerksen.
“We’re grateful for the community support this year, especially to the Tigers for coming up with this great new idea.”