With Christmas just around the corner, clubs across Britain are gearing up to do their bit for their local communities.
Billingham Stars are holding their fifth annual Teddy Toss at this Sunday’s NIHL Northern Cup game against Blackburn Hawks, while Braehead Clan, Edinburgh Capitals, Manchester Storm, Paisley Pirates and Aberdeen Lynx are amongst the organisations who will also look to spread some joy during the festive season.
The Christmas Teddy Toss is a tradition in many rinks throughout North America, with supporters of current record holders the Calgary Hitmen regularly throwing over 26,000 teddies onto the ice.
Usually the bears are thrown when the home team scores their first goal, although British teams often wait until the end of the first period.
In the last four years Billingham have donated hundreds of toys and gifts to two local hospitals – James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and Darlington Memorial – plus Zoe’s Place baby hospice in the run-up to Christmas.
Other clubs take a different approach, asking fans to donate food items or gifts which might make Christmas a little easier for local families in need of support.
Paisley’s next home game against Dundee Tigers on Sunday 11th December is one such example, with the Pirates’ Supporters Club working with Trussell Trust and Renfrewshire Foodbank to try and make a difference to people’s lives.
Pirates’ boss Ian Turley said: “We always stress that we’re a community club wanting to give something back for all the support we receive.
“This is an ideal opportunity for us to show that desire in a very practical way, by hopefully bringing a smile to some faces, for whom Christmas might otherwise be a very difficult time.
“I’m in no doubt that our fans will respond in quantity and it’s a hugely worthwhile project to be involved in.
“I can only recommend it wholeheartedly to all our supporters and, indeed, to everyone in the wider community.
“It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a difference and I really hope we can do that, and, by doing so, reinforce the message about the festive period being a time for giving.”
Pirates’ SNL title rivals Aberdeen Lynx will hold their third Annual Bear Drive in aid of the Original 106FM (a club sponsor) Christmas Appeal at their game with Kilmarnock Storm on Saturday 10th December.
“This will be the first year we’ve also offered fans the chance to donate food to the food bank element of the appeal too,” said Lynx chairman Martin Hill.
“Aberdeen has been hit hard by the oil downturn in the last couple of years and our support of the appeal is going to be even more needed this year.”