Back in 1998, Rob Ravensberg, a relatively new arrival in the community in what was a succession role with Lambton Ford Lincoln, took hold of the Terry Bear Toss concept and planted it firmly in Sarnia-Lambton.
Now in its 21st year, Ravensberg, now dealer principal, continues to champion the event, which has people donating stuffed animals by throwing them on the ice of the arena where the Sarnia Sting play their home games.
The event is set to take place this Saturday, December 8 during the afternoon game with the Kingston Frontenacs that begins at 2 p.m.
Last year’s record collection of 4,200 stuffed animals is something that Ravensberg considers a highlight, although he is obviously hoping to top that number this weekend.
“Since its inception, we’ve been able to see over 59,600 donations in our community,” he notes.
While most of the donations are handled through the Salvation Army, other organizations, including Pathways Health Centre for Children and the Inn of the Good Shepherd are involved.
So are local labour unions, whose members assemble hampers for children, including those with connections to the Women’s Interval Home.
Ravensberg remembers that first year when he brought the Teddy Bear Toss to the area, a year after it had migrated to the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers.
The event first began in the Western Hockey League, with the Kamloops Blazers starting the tradition in 1993. It was, apparently, the brainchild of Don Larsen, then the club’s director of public relations.
There’s little doubt that here in Sarnia-Lambton, that honour goes to Rob Ravensberg of Lambton Ford Lincoln.