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Special delivery

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Even without kids of his own, Sven Baertschi understands the struggle of finding the perfect Christmas present.

The 23-year-old recently took part in the second annual Canucks Family Holiday Sharing Program; the players and their families each shared in the spirit of the season by giving back to local, hard-working families.

Families received warm clothing, toys and household items (based on their wish lists) and a $150 gift card from Save-On-Foods.

Baertschi and his girlfriend Laura adopted the Ye family, made up of dad Leo, mom Jessica and kids Matthew (8), Nathaniel (7) and Debbie (5). Matthew was after Hot Wheels and Debbie had her heart set on a Frozen doll. Done and done. Nathaniel, well, that’s another story.

“He wanted Minecraft Lego,” explained Baertschi. “I’m not too familiar with my Lego these days, but apparently that’s a popular one because we couldn’t find it anywhere. We seriously looked at like 20 stores and I was ready to get a different Lego set until we remembered being that age and how important your Christmas gifts are. So we looked a bit more and of course they had it at a store right by my place.”

As part of the sharing program, the players delivered the gifts themselves, if time permitted during a hectic December travel schedule. Sven and Laura were able to visit the Ye family in person and it was an emotional experience for everyone.

“They were really excited,” said Baertschi, who didn’t call ahead and simply arrived at the family’s home. “Whenever you have the chance to do something like that, it’s great, it totally made my day. I felt great after leaving there and it was a simple thing. It was cool to make their day and help make Christmas special.”

The Ye family didn’t wait until Christmas to open their gifts, all three kids were allowed to dig in right away. Same with the Zathang family, who was surprised by Bo Horvat and his girlfriend Holly, as you can watch below.

It was a different story for the He family, who received a visit from Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev. Simon, Cathy and their kids Sylvia (4) and Biden (2) won’t know what the Canucks defencemen brought them until Christmas morning.

“It wasn’t my decision,” laughed Hutton. “Their mom said they had to wait, but it didn’t matter, they were very excited we came to visit anyways.

“As soon we got there, they greeted us right out of the elevator and the one little guy was holding my hand leading us to their place. It was a very nice family. The kids made us a card and they were jumping around and grinning ear-to-ear the whole time.”

It’s unclear which kids enjoyed this visit more.

“Honestly, it’s a toss-up! We left there talking about how cool and touching it was. It was nice to help such a deserving family during the holidays.”

Cathy He, who has been part of the Canucks Family Education Centre, had a simple message for Hutton and Tanev.

“Thank you so much for this generous gift for my family.”

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