May 19th, 2024

Food banks, soup kitchen winners at mayor’s hockey challenge


By Lethbridge Herald on December 20, 2021.

Team goaltender and mayor Blaine Hyggen, along with the rest of the City of Lethbridge squad, pose for a victory photo following the Mayor’s Community Hockey Challenge over the weekend at the ATB Centre. Herald photo by Dale Woodard

Dale Woodard – Lethbridge Herald

There were some phantom goals, one dust-up and even some mutterings of an intentionally stacked lineup, but there was still one clear winner at the Mayor’s Community Hockey Challenge Saturday afternoon at the ATB Centre.

Led by Lethbridge mayor and goaltender Blaine Hyggen, the City of Lethbridge squared off against the Community Partners in a fun-filled fundraiser hosted by the City of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Sport Council to benefit the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, the Interfaith Food Bank, Lethbridge Food Bank, the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union Food Bank and the Lethbridge College Students’ Association Food Bank.

The Community Partners was made up of local institutions including Lethbridge College, the University of Lethbridge, the Chamber of Commerce, BILD Lethbridge and Alberta Health Services, while the City team consisted of volunteers from a variety of departments including Lethbridge Police Service, Fire & EMS, city clerks, land development, Lethbridge Transit, city council and Lethbridge 311.

The final tally on the scoreboard – and the post-game trophy ceremony in which Hyggen received the winners’ hardware – indicated a win for the City of Lethbridge, but the filled-up food bins in the ATB Centre lobby indicated a bigger victor.

“We came out on top, but you know who came out on top? The food banks,” said Hyggen. 

With roughly 615 pounds of food donations and gifts received plus almost $3,000 in financial contributions, the estimated total raised from Saturday’s game was approximately $4,500.

Saturday’s charity game was just as much about what was going on in the intermission and what was happening away from the ice with a full schedule of extra-curricular activities.

That included a Lethbridge Minor Hockey Timbits game, an AHS-Lethbridge Community Therapeutic Recreation sledge hockey demonstration, a Lethbridge Speed Skating Association demonstration and race and a Lethbridge Skating Club soloist and a Southern Alberta Skating Academy group routine.

Hyggen didn’t get to take a rest during the second intermission, instead staying on the ice and facing a barrage of shots from Lethbridge Ringette Association players.

Midway through the third period a pair of opponents shed their mitts for a ‘scrap’, but fortunately referee and city council member Mark Campbell was able to break up the fracas and get the game back under control.

“I can’t thank our staff enough who really helped put this together,” said Hyggen. “It was at the last minute about a month ago that we decided to do this. I wondered if we could put this together before Christmas time and our communications team hopped to it right away and we got the plans going. Everybody has been amazing, Susan (Eymann) from the Lethbridge Sport Council and anyone we reached out to was more than happy to participate or help out in the planning. I can’t thank this community enough. It really came together.”

Out in the ATB Centre lobby, the food bins were filling up as the Lethbridge Food Bank and the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen set up shop.

Watching the game through the glass from the lobby, Lethbridge Food Bank Executive Director Mac Nichol couldn’t help but wonder if the mayor’s team had a bit of an advantage.

“You can see the City maybe stacked the team a little heavy,” he said with a grin. “You can see they’re running the show pretty well here. I think Hyggen might have stacked the deck a little bit.”

But as the nets got filled, so did the food bins.

“Between food donations and financial donations, we’re doing really well today,” said Nichol. “We had a $100 50-50 and constant donations through the door. Everyone here wants to be part of the giving spirit and I’m glad to be here to accept.”

During the first intermission, Nichol was on the ice as part of the sledge hockey presentation.

“It was great,” he said. “They thought I should try it out. I was a little nervous for it, but it was a heck of a lot of fun. I really like seeing therapeutic recreation out here and really bragging about it to our community as well.”

Lethbridge Soup Kitchen executive director Bill Ginther welcomed the chance to raise awareness for both the soup kitchen and the other beneficiaries.

“It gives people a chance to pick up some information to know the needs are still there and this way you can do it in a fun environment and just before Christmas when the needs are the greatest.”

It especially allows the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen the chance to raise awareness of Lethbridge’s homelessness situation.

“People don’t seem to have an idea that it exists,” said Ginther. “I keep saying to people that all they need to do is come to the front of the soup kitchen where we invite people. They come for meals and there are a lot of people hanging around who have nowhere else to go. So this gives us the chance to talk about that there are homeless people as well as people who are poor in their homes. The food banks focus on families, and they should. We focus on the homeless and mostly adults who are down and out, highly addicted and those kinds of things. We sometimes get left in the dust a little bit and we want to make sure we make people aware of what we’re doing and at this kind of event where you bring members of the public to have some fun and watch the game and see some different demonstrations, is really helpful for us.”

After getting the postgame hardware, Hyggen said to expect to see his team come back next year and defend their title.

“It’ll happen, for sure. In 2022 we’ll have it back on the ice, so we’re looking forward to that.”

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