Brandon, MB. — The Holiday season is upon us and the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings have certainly been busy this month, doing their part in helping to make the season a little brighter for those less fortunate throughout western Manitoba.

The Wheat Kings, who kick off a 3-game Alberta road trip Thursday night in Edmonton against the Oil Kings, hosted their annual Teddy Bear Toss this past weekend and over 1,500 stuffed animals, toques and mittens were donated to local charities, including the local Christmas Cheer Registry.

Another charity benefitting was the Westman and Area Traditional Christmas Dinner, an event that has been a fixture in Brandon for the past twenty-seven years.

In support of this event, the Wheat Kings are encouraging their fans to donate a new unwrapped toy or non-perishable food item when they attend next Friday’s WHL game against the B.C. Division leading Kamloops Blazers.

The first Dinner was organized by former Wheat Kings’ head coach Rocky Addison in 1985 and was attended by thirty people in a small church at the corner of 8th Street and Victoria Avenue. Over time, the event has grown dramatically and for the past twelve years it has been held at the Keystone Centre. Last Christmas, over 2,200 meals were delivered throughout the city and close to 2,300 were served to those who attended the 2-day event at the Keystone.

Doors open Christmas Day at 12 noon and food is served until 6 p.m.

“We love it,” says Westman Traditional Christmas Dinner organizer Gladden Smith. “When we open the doors, the people are lined up and they’re so happy to see us. It makes us all feel pretty good.”

While Smith and his board are officially the reason the event has been such a success, its the generosity of western Manitobans that make it work so well.

While fans are asked to make a donation on Friday, the WHL club, in association with The Brandon Sun and McDonalds Restaurants of Brandon, will be distributing 2012 Wheat King Calendar posters to all in attendance at the game. The full color poster will feature a variety of action shots and should be a welcome addition to all Wheat King fans.

The Wheat Kings will close out the first half of their 2011-12 regular season schedule next week with games Tuesday night against Kelowna as well as Friday’s vs Kamloops. Tuesday’s game will be the club’s first of two Rain Check Games of the year, which means any “unused” ticket can be exchanged at the box office for a “free” ticket to this game (regular Ticketmaster agency fees apply).

Tickets to both of next week’s games are on sale now at the Keystone Centre box office, online at ticketmaster.ca or by calling 726-3555.

In related news, for those fans looking for a great Christmas gift idea – check out the Wheat Kings’ 2 and 4-game Holiday gift pack that includes both tickets and a gift certificate. See www.wheatkings.com for more details.