How does it feel to give toys to needy kids at Christmas? Just ask Leafs winger Tie Domi.
"It's a good feeling," he says with a broad smile.
On Wednesday morning he got to indulge that warm feeling, as 100 kids from City of Toronto hostels streamed into Air Canada Centre to receive a toy, chat with Domi, and have their photo taken with none other than Santa himself.
But Tie and the jolly red fellow weren't the only icons present. Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear was also on hand to autograph photos, shake hands, and pass on Christmas cheer to children who otherwise might be facing a bleak holiday season.
This is the fifth year that Domi has teamed up with City of Toronto's program Santa on Wheels. The popular Leaf purchases 1,000 toys for the program to distribute to family shelters in the community, where the need is the greatest. In the five years the program has been in existence, almost 500 children have received new toys and a reason to smile at Christmas.
A seven year old fan named Andrew was thrilled with his Star Wars game and personally autographed photo from Domi. After he chose his gift, Andrew, like the rest of those in attendance, was treated to free pizza, his own Leafs video and the thrill of watching the entire Maple Leafs team practice on the ice. And like all polite young people, these appreciative kids even signed thank you cards on their way out.
At this time of year, it is heartbreaking to see kids without smiles. Thanks to this high profile "Santa," Tie Domi's grin was joined by so many more.