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Brandon, Manitoba - After helping to kick off the annual Westman & Area Traditional Christmas Dinner Toy Drive at the Keystone Centre this past weekend, the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings are reminding those fans that were unable to attend Sunday's game against Moose Jaw, that it's not too late to donate.

Fans can make drop off new, unwrapped toys or cash donations to the Richmond Avenue McDonalds all this week. Defencemen Chad Erb and Daryl Boyle of the Wheat Kings attended the official kick-off to this year's Toy Drive on Monday, December 11th. The Westman & Area Traditional Christmas Dinner has been held for the past 20 years and the Wheat Kings have been associated with the annual event for the past eleven.

The first dinner, which was organized by former Wheat Kings' coach Rocky Addison was attended by thirty people and was held in a small church at the corner of 8th Street and Victoria Avenue. The dinner outgrew the capacity of the church and was moved to the Prairie Oasis Centre. The numbers continued to grow so much that the annual event had to be moved to a larger facility - the Keystone Centre.

For Christmas 2005, over 1,700 meals were delivered thoughout the city while approximately 2,300 were served at the Keystone Centre.

Speaking of the Westman & Area Christmas Dinner, the current Chairman is Gladden Smith and in recognition of his outstanding contributions to both the event and the community, he's been named December's recipient of the Manitoba Blue Cross Performer of the Month Award. A current member of the Provincial Exhibition Board of Directors, Smith has been involved with the Dinner since 1989. Smith will be recognized during the first intermission of this Friday's WHL game between Brandon and Regina at the Keystone Centre.

In addition to his commitment to the dinner, Smith has been an active volunteer with the C.O.P.P.S. (Citizens on Patrol Program), the Alzheimer Society, Canadian Cancer Society as well as the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

In other Wheat Kings' news, Ryan Reaves and Teegan Moore visited Shoal Lake School Tuesday morning, as the hockey club's CIBC Read to Succeed Program made its final pre-Christmas visit of the year. As well, Mark Derlago and Bryan Kauk will be signing autographs and serving a delicious Subway lunch to members of the Waverly Park School Patrol unit Tuesday, compliments of Manitoba Public Insurance and the Brandon Sun.
 
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