By Miranda Baker
The Calgary Flames and Calgary Hitmen joined forces Monday bringing a little holiday cheer to patients at the Alberta Children's Hospital.
Players delivered around 600 stuffed animals, some of which were collected at the Hitmen's annual Petro-Canada Teddy Bear Toss Sunday, to children who might not be as fortunate this holiday season.
“It’s enjoyable for us. It’s nice to see the kids and see the smiles and to share little hockey stories and listen to what’s going on in there day," commented Flames captain Jarome Iginla.
"It’s not the longest interaction with these kids, but we enjoy it and hopefully they do to.”
Groups included both Flames and Hitmen players, who spent an hour and a half signing autographs, taking pictures and handing out stuffed animals to patients.
“It’s great just to give them a little teddy bear and see them smile," said Hitmen forward Brodie Dupont.
"Some of them don’t get to go home for Christmas, but there are some that do and still have to check back here every week or every two weeks, so it’s pretty cool to put a smile on their face and make things a little easier for them when they’re here.”
Derek LeBlanc agrees with Dupont and believes the hospital visit is an important community initiative.
"It's great to see something as small as a teddy bear can make a world of difference for these kids at this time of year," added LeBlanc.
Patients' faces lit up when they saw players enter their rooms and were chopping at the bit to meet their favourite Flame and Hitmen heroes.
"There seems to be some hockey fans here and some of them have been watching games recently and follow the Flames and Hitmen," said Iginla
"So it's just nice to hang out and talk with them and we have a lot of bears that were at the Hitmen game which is pretty cool. It's Christmas time, so we enjoy it a lot and if it brings a smile to a kids' face during the holidays, it's worthwhile."