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Alaska high school hockey rivals are in a battle for toys

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 5:08 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A High school hockey rivalry looks to have a big payoff for the Toys for Tots program, and it isn’t just the students who are excited about this friendly competition. This weekend’s match between the Eagle River and Chugiak High School hockey teams includes an additional challenge: which school’s team can collect the most toys for Toys for Tots.

Run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, the program distributes toys to children over the holidays whose families could not otherwise afford them.

Eagle River School Resource Officer John Goetz is also getting in on the fun. Goetz was spurred to action when he saw a social media post last week by the Chugiak School Resource Officer, Brian Burton. In it, Burton posed with a patrol car full of toys that were going to the Chugiak team. That led Goetz to decide it was his turn to go one better for his school.

On Thursday morning, Goetz showed up at Eagle River High with not one, but two vehicles stuffed to the brim with toys, including the SWAT team vehicle known as the Bearcat. Goetz said the toys were donated from the PetSmart store in Anchorage.

Members of the hockey team added them to a collection they’d already started after wrapping gifts at the Eagle River Walmart over the weekend and earning $900 to buy more toys. Principal Tim Helvey said he’s been nothing but impressed with their efforts.

“It’s blown up to this huge Toys for Tots drive with our SRO’s getting involved and our hockey team, you know, leading the charge with this, and then going to Walmart with $900 and buying out practically every teddy bear they had on the shelves,” he said. “So it’s become a big deal, a big rivalry.”

Helvey said he’s looking forward to Saturday to see who wins the game, but also the toy drive challenge.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. Saturday at the McDonald Center in Eagle River. People are encouraged to bring a toy when they come.

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