This year, the Toronto Titans invited the Toronto Wolverines to join in on their annual Give Back Day. This was the Titans fourth annual fundraiser, encouraging teams to participate in community service. Each team is asked to pick a specific cause or activity with the aim of ‘giving back.’
The Titans General Manager Eric Cella created the initiative in hopes of taking the task of a fundraiser off the parents and giving the responsibility to the athletes themselves.
“Before we started Give Back Day, we used to hold a banquet and I found that it wasn’t truly appreciated,” Cella explained.“I decided giving back to the community first hand would be a better experience for the kids and would be more appreciated throughout the community.”
The Toronto Titans’ mission states they are committed, “to pursue the development of children, not solely as hockey players, but as people, sharing core values of commitment, discipline, professionalism, work ethic, team work, sharing, growing, mutual respect, integrity, loyalty, and fun.” Working with that statement in mind, this initiative proved to be an excellent way to help develop players into not only good hockey players, but well-rounded citizens.
The teams have participated in a wide variety of charitable causes, including a trip to a senior’s residence and SickKids. This year, the Titans Midget team planned a practice for Gladiator Hockey, a team for developmentally challenged athletes from the ages of 8-45.
“My son initially didn’t want to participate in the trip we planned to the senior’s residence last year, but by the end of the day, he came out having a lot of fun,” Cella recalled. “This year he helped out at the Gladiator Hockey practice, and by the end of the two-hour session, he came out with a couple new friends and a day to remember. This is exactly the impact I was looking for.”
This year was the first year the Wolverines joined the initiative. They created a sock drive, Socks for Souls, and added it into one of their tournaments, successfully collecting 1500 socks.
“I don’t force people to do it, it’s a request and it has been generously and positively added to each program,” Cella said.“The idea is to give back, but I do end the year with a family skate for the teams who participate and a years of service recognition award as a slight incentive.”
Former Titan coach Patrick Flatley strongly believes in the Give Back Day program. His son’s Peewee AAA team went to a local food bank to made sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless this year.
“The Titans Give Back Day is a fantastic initiative that lets the boys see how fortunate they are and how important it is to be unselfish on and off the ice,” the Ex-NHL player explained. “It reinforces the intangibles of teamwork, accountability and perseverance that we are trying to coach these kid.”