Teddy Bear Toss provides toys for local children

This year’s Teddy Bear Toss was held Friday, Dec. 7, in the Tullio Ice Center.

James Oefelein, president of the Mercyhurst Veterans Association (MVA), helped to organize the event.

Oefelein got involved with the Teddy Bear Toss through friends on the hockey team, namely Pat Goebel.

It was Goebel’s idea to start the toss and Oefelein asked if they could give the toys collected to Toys for Tots. Goebel agreed. The Mercyhurst Veterans Association then ran with it from there and the results were surprising.

“I asked Pat the first year if we could donate to Toys for Tots, because as a former Marine, it is one of my favorite charities,” Oefelein said.

With Toys for Tots the donations that people give stay in the local community.

With the economy the way it is there are “a lot of kids in Erie who can benefit from the amazing generosity of the Mercyhurst and Erie community,” said Oefelein. “This is something that is very near and dear to me and I’m so happy that I can play a small part in contributing to it.”

“Last year’s Teddy Bear Toss was comically successful in that we collected many stuffed animals. We didn’t do an exact count but we were really happy with it being our first year,” said Oefelein. “The comical part was that a lot of fans didn’t show up early enough and the boys scored early so we did it for the first and second goals.”

“It’s a great community event. Because it is something simple and relatively inexpensive, more people are willing to do it,” said sophomore Jacob Middlesetter. “And who doesn’t like throwing stuff out onto the ice rink. Feels like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be.”

This year’s goal was to grow the awareness in the Erie community at large. There is a great hockey community in Erie and with the NHL lockout Oefelein thought that many people are looking for good hockey to watch and our Mercyhurst Lakers could provide that.

Oefelein is thankful for the support this initiative has received.

“The Veterans Association is greatly appreciative of the support they have received from the Mercyhurst hockey program, the Mercyhurst Student Government, and the Mercyhurst administration, especially Deb Morton, for their support of this event and the Association in general,” said Oefelein. “We are truly indebted to these people for helping us accomplish our missions.”