IceCaps Insider: IceCaps play Santa Posted by IceCaps on
IceCaps and community partners spread Christmas joy in Labrador
Chris Ballard – IceCaps Insider
For the last two seasons, the St. John’s IceCaps used the help of the Salvation Army to distribute the teddy bears collected during the annual NTV Christmas Teddy Toss across the province.
This Christmas season, the IceCaps again joined forces with Salvation Army as well as Provincial Airlines and Innu Makun Airlines to be a little more hands-on in the delivery of their Christmas bears.
“It was awesome,” said IceCaps Director of Community partnerships, Trevor Murphy.
“It started off with an idea that kind of gained some speed and basically we were able to make it happen. We thought, ‘How cool would it be if we actually bring the teddy bears ourselves somehow?’ It started with just an idea. We talked about it at the office a little bit and got the positive response to run with it. So we talked to the guys at Provincial Airlines, they jumped on board, I got Buddy (the Puffin) on board and basically it just took off from there.”
So Murphy, Buddy the Puffin and the folks from NTV hopped aboard a flight to Labrador on Dec. 23 to join forces with Salvation Army representatives in Labrador to spread Christmas joy firsthand.
Murphy explained that a full day was planned in Labrador with a focus on the young families in Goose Bay and Sheshatshiu.
“We left here on Monday morning on the 7 o’clock flight,” Murphy said.
“We spent most of the morning in Goose Bay and then just after lunch we headed down to Sheshatshiu for a couple of hours and then back to Goose Bay to finish the day off. It was pretty amazing to see these young families coming out to see Buddy and to receive a teddy bear for Christmas on behalf of the IceCaps. It was certainly a very exciting day but also humbling too, just to see all these people wanting to come out and be a part of this event.”
A total of 3,500 bears were collected at the IceCaps’ home game on Dec. 6 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and approximately 500 were hitched to the Provincial Airlines sleigh destined for Labrador.
The response to this year’s Teddy Toss was overwhelming. The 3,500 bears rank as the most the IceCaps have collected in their three seasons in St. John’s and the reaction from young IceCaps fans in Labrador is something Murphy will not soon forget.
“The response that we received was phenomenal,” Murphy said.
“We certainly appreciated all those people taking time from their schedules to come out and visit us. When you see the smile on the kid’s faces at the end of the day and having that quick meeting with Buddy, it was pretty special and it was certainly something that we were very proud to be a part of.”
It wasn’t an easy job to play Santa for a day but Murphy and the IceCaps were able to pull it off with the overwhelming support of the communities and their partners.
“From a Salvation Army standpoint, they’re in the communities and they’re helping families throughout the year,” Murphy said.
“We had a couple volunteers from the Salvation Army who spent the whole day with us in Goose Bay and Sheshatshiu and they are just tremendous individuals making great things happen throughout the year, not just the holiday season.”
“From Provincial Airlines and their northern partner Innu Mikun Airlines, the fact that they were willing partner with us on this, to send myself and Buddy and other IceCaps members to be a part of this, it just goes to show their commitment. This is a great example of why having great partners is so important to any successful organization. They didn’t hesitate. We sent them an email and within literally ten minutes we had a response back saying ‘Yeah, we would love to do this.’”
While no plans have officially been made for next season’s Teddy Toss, Murphy said that he wouldn’t be surprised if a similar trip could be arranged. It may have been a long day but Murphy believes if you’re putting smiles on children’s faces, it is worth the effort.
“If my memory serves me correctly, we took off for Goose Bay around 6:00 a.m. and we were back in St. John’s by 9:30 p.m. that night,” he said.
“It was a very hectic day but it was worth it because there was a lot of smiling kids and a lot of happy families because of it.”