The WHL has replaced its annual teddy bear toss games with “T’s for Toys,” a fundraiser where all 22 teams sell limited edition T-shirts that are emblazoned with their mascots.
Saskatchewan clubs have chosen a wide array of organizations to fundraise for, with the Moose Jaw Warriors choosing the Salvation Army, the Saskatoon Blades selecting EGADZ, the Swift Current Broncos choosing the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre and the Prince Albert Raiders selecting the Prince Albert Optimist Club.
The goal of the campaign is to raise $55,000 in total, which would equal $2,500 for each charity. Each T-shirt costs $20, seven of which will go to the organization chosen by the team.
The Pats have chosen Eagle Heart Centre as their beneficiary. EHC is a non-profit that has been supporting Indigenous families in North Central Regina for the last 25 years.
Their collaboration with the Regina Pats started about five years ago with the Pats volunteering for EHC’s youth mentorship program.
“Each year we did a legacy project, and we were wanting to give life experiences to our children and our families and the Pats would help us out with tickets,” said Delora Parisian, the executive director of EHC.
Parisian states that the fundraising will be focused on family activities, seeing as many families are confined to their homes due to Covid-19.
“We’re looking at things families can do like board games, crafts and puzzles. Just something that they can all participate in together.”
Parisian says that Covid-19 has affected their work but they are making due.
“We’ve had to be creative in terms of reaching out to our clients, we use social media a lot. Many of our programs focus on home visits so we’ve been doing that virtually… so it has affected our ability to reach out to our families but the families have responded well.”
“Certainly, the importance of the campaign has been heightened due to Covid-19 and the good work that Eagle Heart Centre does and the community that they serve is even more important now,” said Evan Daum, the director of brand marketing and communications for the Pats. He explained that the teddy bear toss could not be done due to Covid-19 but “T’s for Toys” would be just as good.
“It’s a worthwhile cause and its going to bring joy to people around Christmas time which is really paramount.”
Stacey Cattell, chief operating officer for the Regina Pats, said that the close relationship between the Pats and Regina’s Indigenous community started during the 2017-18 season with the First Nations celebration game and has only grown since.
“We went to our First Nations leaders and we said we want to make an impact, especially in the area we do business and one of the groups that came to light was Eagle Heart.”
Cattell described that “T’s for Toys” is their latest move in helping out.
“We’re trying to provide experiences and we’re trying to be a leader in the community… so when the WHL led the way on creating mascot T-shirts for toys, it was another way for us to continue on that path.”
The campaign is slated to run until Dec. 11. To get a shirt, you can visit the WHL or Regina Pats website. The 2021 WHL season is scheduled to begin Jan. 8.