The Calgary Flames made their annual Christmas visit to the Alberta's Children's Hospital Thursday distributing toys to over 300 kids who may not be as fortunate this holiday season. The event, which has been a tradition since the Flames came to Calgary in 1980, is a favourite among the players since they able to give back in a time of need.
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"I think it’s nice to be here and spend some time with the kids and put smiles on their faces," said Flames' forward David Moss
, who is currently out with an ankle injury.
"I think it’s great, I think all the guys enjoy doing it, and it’s a time of year when we should be giving back, and we look forward to it."
Teddy bears were given to each child on behalf of the Pengrowth Saddledome suite holders, and those children in the oncology unit were presented with a special NHL Hockey Fights Cancer blanket on behalf of the NHL and NHLPA.
An event like this is an important community initiative and an opportunity for the Flames to make a child's Christmas that much more special.
"We did this in college too, and the kids are just so happy to see you," added Moss. "Anytime you can make them smile when they’re in the hospital is nice. I think all the guys are happy to do it and it makes you feel good."
Although a majority of the Flames' players visited children bedside, one group made a special stop.
Rhett Warrener, Dion Phaneuf, Miikka Kiprusoff, Adrian Aucoin, and Moss stopped in the Arts and Crafts room to paint Christmas ornaments and make cards with patients. As each player sat down and starting interacting and joking around with the children, it was clear that this day was sought after for a long time.
"Everyone looks forward to this every year. When the kids are happy, the families are happy and the staff is happy," said Ena MacDonald, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at the Alberta's Children's Hospital.
"They get to go home with a good experience and forget about the treatment and some of the things that maybe weren’t so nice."
According to MacDonald, the Flames Christmas visit is even more anticipated than Santa's visit to the hospital.
"We’re just delighted that the Flames are such great partners with us in addition to the funding that they’re giving us to build Alberta’s first pediatric hospice," commented MacDonald.
"They are very generous with their time and these are the heroes of today, and they’re what every kid in this room wants to be, so it’s really great."