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North Halton Twisters team collects teddy bears for hospitalized kids

The stuffed animals will be donated to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal
The U18AA North Halton Twisters share a moment with the Credit Valley Shrine Club before the teddy bear toss at the Acton Arena.

Members of a local girls’ hockey team are doing their part to put a smile on the faces of children enduring tough and sometimes scary situations.

The U18AA North Halton Twisters have collected dozens of stuffed animals that will be sent to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal - the only one of its kind in Canada.

The team gathered the donations through a recent teddy bear toss at the Acton Arena, where the crowd was invited to throw stuffies onto the ice after the first goal was scored.

The teddy bear toss after the first goal was scored at the U18AA North Halton Twisters' game Sunday in Acton. Supplied photo

“Everyone was really excited to help out and give back,” said Cary Poole, whose 16-year-old daughter Lizzie is on the team.

“All the bears will be shipped to the Montreal hospital, and children who are there - whether it’s for a short stay or a long stay - will be offered bears to help them get through a really tough time in their life.”

Poole knows firsthand how much the Shriners care for families with children who have medical needs.

Lizzie has benefitted from their support since she was 11 years old and required a spinal surgery.

“The Shriners allowed us to get an operation at one of their hospitals that wasn’t available in Canada, and they helped us drive back and forth to the States at the time. They supported Lizzie in many different ways,” said Poole.

“They really do look after sick children like they’re part of their family. She’ll be a Shriners kid forever.”

The local mother is thrilled that the teddy bear toss organized by the U18AA team not only helps other children, but also raises awareness about the important work the Shriners hospitals do.

“They help children with cleft palate, orthopedic issues, cerebral palsy, spinal (cord injury) and burn victims,” she said. “It’s a really amazing charity.”

Members of the Credit Valley Shrine Club. Melanie Hennessey/HaltonHillsToday

Greg Ferguson of the Credit Valley Shrine Club - the chapter that helped Lizzie - said the Shriners have 22 hospitals throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“It (the Shriners’ services) is provided at no cost to the parents,” he said. “Transportation to the hospitals is also done by us.”

Fellow members of the local Shrine club came out to the weekend game to see the teddy bear toss, meet the Twisters and catch up with Lizzie.

“They’re giving back, which is so nice,” said Ferguson. “It’s a team effort.”

Shriners International founded the Shriners Hospitals for Children in 1922 and continues to support the unique healthcare system today by raising funds, assisting patients’ families with transportation, volunteering on hospital boards and more.

For further details on the Shriners and the services offered at their hospitals, click here.