(December 5, 2005) -- With the holiday season here, Toronto Maple Leafs players will get into the spirit of giving as they lend their time and support to a wide range of community initiatives and programs throughout December.
Leafs Captain Mats Sundin was joined by Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear to launch the eleventh season of Esso Maple Leaf Street Buds at Wellesley Community Centre on Sunday, December 4. Supported by Leafs Hockey Development, this program provides youth between the ages of six and 16 years the opportunity to play organized street-style hockey in a safe and fun environment.
On Thursday, December 8, Leafs Matt Stajan and Wade Belak will visit the students of Morse Street School as part of the TD Waterhouse Leafs @ School program. Aimed at students in Grades 4 to 6 and aligned with the current Ontario school curriculum, Leafs @ School is a popular web-based education program that makes learning fun by using hockey in relation to core school subjects.
More than 65,000 Greater Toronto Area (GTA) students currently participate in Math with Mats Sundin, Language with Eric Lindros, Nutrition with Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle and the Leafs @ School Fitness Challenge - key Leafs @ School lesson plans that engage kids and motivate them to learn.
The very-popular Toronto Maple Leafs Skate for Easter Seals Kids takes place on Sunday, December 11 at Air Canada Centre in support of kids living with physical disabilities. Proceeds from the skate benefit The Easter Seal Society and the Leafs Fund. For a minimum $100 in pledges, hockey fans will get the opportunity-of-a-lifetime to skate with current Leafs players and alumni.
Leafs players will also visit with patients and their families at The Hospital for Sick Children on Tuesday, December 13 as they drop by Marnie's Lounge, a recreational room inside the hospital that provides a wide variety of programming and activities for patients. Players will spend one-on-one time with the kids, sign autographs and tour hospital units.
"We recognize that the Leafs are in a unique position to be a positive influence in our community, particularly with children and youth," said John Lashway, senior vice-president of communications and community development of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "The personal time, energy and efforts of our players, coaches, alumni and community staff have had a tremendous impact for the many charities, organizations and agencies we support. We take our outreach responsibilities very seriously and appreciate the opportunity to give back to our community."
The Leafs organization remains at the forefront of many social issues currently debated in the public forum. The team's active support and work in the community has helped raise much needed awareness for hot button issues such as health, wellness, child development active lifestyles, education, nutrition and youth self-esteem.
Creating community awareness inside Air Canada Centre is just as important to the Leafs. Fans attending the December 6 home game versus the Los Angeles Kings will have an opportunity to bid for some unique Christmas trees decorated by Leafs players and coaching staff as part of the Festival of Trees program. Trees will be decorated with items that range from autographed sports memorabilia to concert and sports tickets. All money raised benefits the Leafs Fund, the Raptors Foundation and the United Way.
While Leafs 50/50 volunteers continue to raise money through fan support during each home game for Leafs Dreams, an arts scholarship program that enables students to realize their talent and artistic potential.
Each season Leafs players, coaches and alumni work to support more than 100 community events and initiatives organized by the Leafs Fund, Leafs Community Relations and Leafs Hockey Development.
Leafs Hockey Development and Leafs Community Relations provide tens of thousands of children and youth in Ontario with opportunities to participate in innovative hockey and educational programs. The Leafs Fund is committed to responsible community leadership through access to sports and recreation, and encouraging health and wellness in the community. The Leafs Fund raises and disperses more than $1 million dollars to charities annually.