Video: COMMUNITY | Shirts off our Backs
Dozens of lucky Oilers fans went home smiling Saturday night, not just because the Oilers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout, but because they won an autographed jersey while helping feed families in need this holiday season.
The annual Shirts Off Our Backs presented by Rogers fundraiser took place on December 17 for the very first time at Rogers Place.
"The Edmonton Oilers Ladies, in partnership with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF), have been hosting Shirts off our Backs for over 30 years," explained EOCF Executive Director Natalie Minckler.
"By participating, fans had the opportunity to win both a player and team-signed jersey to take home just in time to put under the tree for someone special!"
All net proceeds from this fan-favourite fundraiser are directed to the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton through the Oilers Foundation. Nearly 1,200 families of four will benefit from the fundraiser this holiday season.
"It is by far one of our biggest fundraisers," said Executive Director for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton Darlene Kowalchuk. "It's the need of food at this time of year, and this gives a great relief for many families that we service."
This year the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton will serve around 70,000 Edmontonians - a number that keeps rising with the slumping economy.
"That equates to about 25,000 families we'll be servicing," added Kowalchuk. "We're non-denominational, so what this [fundraiser] does is helps provide those festive meals, whether it be those turkey dinners or gift cards to Sobeys or Safeway so they can go out and buy their traditional meal."
Shirts Off Our Backs presented by Rogers started back when Kevin Lowe played for the Edmonton Oilers.
"He got involved with with the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton as a young player and continues to work with them today," said Minckler. "Lowe and the Oilers Ladies are now the honorary co-chairs of this important local charity."
"I would say my favourite part of this is that everyone gets on board to buy a raffle ticket because every single player has signed a jersey, so everyone is so excited to get their name in the draw and support a great cause," explained one of the Oilers Ladies Lauren Rodych.
The fundraiser is always seen as a fun way to get Oilers fans into the holiday spirit, while making the season that much brighter for those in need.
"It's an amazing partnership we have with the EOCF and one we're very grateful for," added Kowalchuk.