Vikes for Tykes announces games for donations
Supplied Members of the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings collected about 450 toys for Vikes for Tykes last year.
A pair of University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings are already in the Christmas spirit.
Brett Ponich, a defenceman for the hockey team, and Nicole Brockman, a former player and now an assistant coach with the women’s volleyball team have gotten the athletic department behind the second annual Vikes for Tykes toy drive.
Last year they athletes and fans donated 450 toys and this year they are shooting for about 750.
“The response from the athletes was absolutely amazing,” said Ponich. “We asked for one toy each and what we got was averaging about three toys per athlete.
“People want to get involved around Christmas time, they’re wanting to do those types of things, but this program offered really busy students a vehicle to participate in something.”
They estimate the monetary value of last year’s haul at around $5,000.
Ponich came up with the idea last year. He played his junior in the Western Hockey League where teddy bear tosses are held by most teams in which fans at a designated game throw stuffed bears onto the ice when the home team scores.
“It was always a fan favourite and also a player’s favourite, not only because of the in-game fun with the toys coming and the atmosphere with that, but also taking the toys to the hospital and doing a hospital visit … right around Christmas. It was always a special time and a special experience for me.”
He found there was no equivalent at the college level and while talking it over with Brockman the idea grew into an athletic department initiative.
Instead of throwing toys onto the ice, there will be a drop box for athletes and fans at home games over the next two weeks. The hockey team plays Saturday at 6 p.m. and then Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Encana Arena. Volleyball has three home games — Nov. 18, 24 and 25 with the women at 6 p.m. and men at 8 p.m. And basketball has two home date on Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, at 6 and 8 p.m.
For those who cannot make it to any of the games, there will be a drop box near Hutch the Therapy Dog in the campus library.
This initiative is even unique for the university as it brings together the entire student athlete body.
“A lot of teams do little things here and there … but we wanted to find one thing where we could include all the teams and all the athletes and make it a bigger scale,” said Brockman.
“We asked every athlete to bring one toy each and it grew from there.”
Those wanting to participate are asked to bring an unwrapped toy, with a suggest target value of around $10. The toy drive is in support of the Camrose Kinettes Silent Santa, who will wrap the presents, and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
Participating fans will also receive points on the Vikings Village app that can be spent in the Augustana bookstore and at participating stores and restaurants around Camrose.