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Hockey fans hurl toys Friday to help spread holiday cheer

Fans at the Edmonton Oil Kings game Friday tossed thousands of stuffed toys onto the ice for families in need this holiday season. (Galan McDougall/CTV News Edmonton) Fans at the Edmonton Oil Kings game Friday tossed thousands of stuffed toys onto the ice for families in need this holiday season. (Galan McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)
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Nearly 15,000 stuffed toys hit the ice at Rogers Place Friday night for the Edmonton Oil Kings Teddy Bear Toss.

The home team's Landon Hanson scored the teddy-triggering goal against the Everett Silvertips from Washington.

"I think it always catches me off guard," Angel Benedict, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous executive director, said. "It's just pure excitement. You start seeing the bears coming down and then you get to the ice and they just never stop, and it's so amazing."

Last year's toss broke the previous year's record with 12,000 bears, but Benedict was hopeful the high turnout for the game would help supass last year's haul.

"I saw so many people with many bears in their arms and many bears in a bag," she added.

Santa Clause and 49 of his "elves" helped collect and count the bears. When they finished, there were around 3,000 more bears than the 2022 toss.

Fifty volunteers helped collect and count nearly 15,000 stuffed toys Friday night after the Oil Kings 16th annual Teddy Bear Toss. (Galan McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)The stuffed animals will be combined with a book and other toys to make gift packages, which will be handed out to families on Dec. 16.

"We're serving tens of thousands of kids in our community, we have thousands of families that are asking us for help," she said. "It's hard."

The 630 CHED team has collected nearly 163,000 stuffed toys since the first Oil Kings' Teddy Bear Toss in 2008. Benedict says it's an essential event in ensuring families in need get that support over the holidays.

"Twenty-five percent of our gift package is actually taken care of by this game here," she added. "There's going to be over 20,000 kids, because of this game and some leftovers from last year, who are going to have a bear to snuggle on Christmas night at home."

The Oil Kings beat the Everett Silvertips 5-3.

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