Erie, Pa (WJET/WFXP/ — The Erie Otters have done it again: bringing the excitement of hockey while also making a difference for those in the community.

For the third year in a row, the Erie Otters Hockey Club and its fans combined their efforts on Saturday, Nov. 18, as they hosted their annual toss during the team’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Night against rival London Knights – this time to benefit the non-profit organization Community Shelter Services.

After collecting 1,591 pairs of socks in the inaugural season, and 2,281 pairs of socks last season, the 2023 edition of the sock toss saw 2768 socks tossed during the game night:

  • 1,489 men’s socks
  • 785 women’s sock
  • 494 kids socks

“It is beyond humbling to see the extended selflessness and goodwill of our fans and the Erie community. It is initiatives and events like this that continue to push the envelope on why we have the best fans and community in hockey,” said Shawn Bednard, Otters’ director of communications and community outreach.

“Our organization is truly humbled by the donations from our youngest supporters at the Early Learning Center, to those in jerseys on Saturday night who littered the ice with socks for men, women, and children. The winter months are so difficult for our neediest population, and the donation of a sock goes so far,” Bednard added.

In addition to the sock toss, the St. Martin’s Early Learning Center and the Otters partnered up for the center’s annual Socktober drive, led by the Giraffe Class at the Early Learning Center. Through collected donations, the Otters were able to add an additional 1500 pairs of socks to the collected total.

Adding that amount into the mix, the total collected number equaled 4,268 pairs of socks.

On Monday, members of the Otters, as well as the Otters’ mascot Otto, delivered the donated items to Community Shelter Services. Diane Lazette, the shelter’s executive director, and Fontaine Glenn, director of development, were on-site with shelter staff and volunteers to help collect the socks.

“It’s something that so many of us take for granted, you get up in the morning and put on a pair of socks, but for a lot of our clients they might not have that,” said Glenn. “It’s a barrier between them and the cold weather, so it is crucial for keeping their feet dry and warm and for their overall health as well.”

The Charity Sock Toss was first launched in the 2021-22 season for the Otters as the first in the history of the Ontario Hockey League.