|Senators goaltender Alex Auld has donated 80 coats to aid the efforts of the Snowsuit Fund. Fans can further help the cause during Sunday's game against the Hurricanes (Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images).
Alex Auld appreciates the value of a warm coat.
As someone who grew up in Thunder Bay, the Senators goaltender knows all about the kind of nasty weather Mother Nature can dish out in a northwestern Ontario winter. And Ottawa, his current hockey home, is not exactly a picnic in those months, either.
With that thought in mind, Auld has teamed up with one of his sponsors to donate 80 coats to the Snowsuit Fund, an Ottawa charity which provides winter coats to children in need of such items in the nation's capital. He's also urging Senators fans to do the same on Sunday, when the Snowsuit Fund will be accepting donations of new and gently used jackets as part of the Sens' "Fill The Net For Kids" drive during the Ottawa-Carolina game at Scotiabank Place.
"I have a great partnership, a great relationship with Reebok ... I was able to leverage that and we were able to work out getting a bunch of jackets," said Auld. "It'll help raise even more awareness and we have a drive at (Sunday’s) game, too. I just hope everyone realizes how many kids and adults can benefit from something like this."
The Snowsuit Fund can provide the kind of numbers that show how big a deal this is, said Dean Usher, vice-chair of the charity. He called Auld's donation "an unbelievable initiative" and said the fund is thankful both to him and Senators defenceman Chris Phillips and his wife, Erin, who are the Snowsuit Fund's honorary co-chairs.
"The beauty of the Snowsuit Fund is that it’s a grassroots charity started in Ottawa — it’s not a national organization," said Usher. "It’s grown in leaps and bounds over the last 30 years to the point that we’re fitting up 15-16,000 kids a year who are truly in need. When I speak to schools, I say picture Scotiabank Place almost full and that’s how many kids we’re servicing on an annual basis."
Claude L'Heureux of Canadian Tire, one of the major sponsors of at the annual gala, echoed those sentiments about the importance of this annual drive.
"It’s sad to say, but we need those snowsuits in Ottawa," he said. "It’s a unique way, but it’s also a very important way, to help the kids. I’ve been at the depot myself on Saturdays when there’s long lineups of people (waiting for coats) and they really need our support. What Alex has done makes a big difference for our community."
Auld is more than happy to lend a hand to a worthy cause.
"There’s so many different causes and the team here does a great job of getting guys involved," he said. "This is just something else and another way we can give back. I understand these jackets are pretty warm, so that’s definitely good news."