Thousands of teddy bears will fly across the ice tonight at the Spokane Chiefs hockey game at the Spokane Arena, as fans participate in the annual Christmas Bureau teddy bear toss.
Last year, Chiefs fans pitched more than 3,000 teddy bears and other stuffed animals onto the ice after the Chiefs scored their first goal of the game.
“About 50 volunteers and the team gather up the bears,” said Jay Stewart, director of public relations. “Gus Johnson Ford trucks are driven onto the ice and the bears are loaded into the trucks. The game is stopped for about five minutes.”
Stewart said the hockey team has been promoting the annual teddy bear toss, and it’s a tradition that fans look forward to. “We tell fans to toss the animals right after the Chiefs score their first goal. Two years ago the team scored in the first three minutes and some fans weren’t in their seats yet. After the second goal, there were a few more bears that came out of the stands and onto the ice,” he said.
The Chiefs play the Kootenay Ice tonight at 7.
The hockey team will transport the teddy bears to the fairgrounds Tuesday for distribution to children who families are in need. The Christmas Bureau opens Wednesday.
The teddy bears will be among the array of toys available for parents to select for their children at the annual charity. On Monday and Tuesday, volunteers will unload about 14,000 toys from trucks and set up the bureau.
In addition to toys, children will get books, and each family will receive a food voucher that can be used at many area grocery stores to get the fixings for a holiday dinner.
Donations to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund pay for the food vouchers and toys distributed at the bureau. Donations of all amounts are welcome.
Donations totaling $4,700, including $2,500 from Moloney O’Neill, of Spokane, bumped the fund to $92,937.
“The nearly 100 employees at Moloney O’Neill appreciate and applaud your efforts to help make Christmas brighter for so many of our Inland Northwest neighbors,” wrote Mark Roff, a Moloney O’Neill partner. “During this challenging economic environment, it’s inspiring to see how the residents and businesses get behind this great cause to help those in need. We hope you break your goal for 2008 and are honored to help. Merry Christmas and thanks to all the volunteers who give their time, energy and efforts to make the Christmas Fund a reality.”
Following are additional donors and the amounts they gave.
Cecil Nuxoll, of Spokane, donated $300 “for people who have less.”
Judy Hudson, of Spokane, sent $300 in memory of her husband, Mac. “This fund drive really is the start of Christmas season,” she wrote.
An anonymous donor, of Mead, gave $300 in memory of John and Rosemary Bacon.
Orval and Anita Janssen, of Spokane, donated $250.
Charles Lobdell, of Spokane, donated $200 in memory of Marie W. Lobdell, who was a District 81 grade school teacher. “Marie loved children and she always felt that no child should experience Christmas without receiving a Christmas gift,” Lobdell wrote.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $200 in memory of Daphne Adams. “Christmas was her favorite time of year. She donated to the Christmas Fund for many years, and it is an honor for me to continue the tradition,” wrote the donor.
Kenneth Rydbom, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Tom Highland and Barbara Crawford, of Spokane, and Jerry and Beverly Basler, of Spokane Valley.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $75.
Roberta Forsberg, of Spokane, donated $50, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley, and an anonymous donor, of Cheney. Wilson Stuckless, of Spokane Valley, donated $50 in memory of his wife, Marilyn.
Lesley Tate, of Careywood, Idaho, sent $25, as did U.S.A. Wrestling-Inland Northwest of Santa, Idaho, and an anonymous donor, of Nine Mile Falls.
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