Lt. Jon Perry, Lt. Chris Swenson, the Boston Bruins’ national anthem singer Todd Angilly, retired Deputy Chief Bill Collins, and firefighter Patrick Mendelsohn at last year’s Checking for Charity event, which raised over $20,000. Contributed / Mike Norton

Pucks will be chucked, skills will be tested and even some checking may occur at Troubh Arena in Portland next weekend as Checking for Charity hits the ice once more.

Since 2017, the South Portland firefighters union has organized the annual charity ice hockey event, which benefits many local organizations in addition to one primary beneficiary each year.

They’ve raised over $125,000 since then and have a goal of $25,000 for the seventh annual Checking for Charity on March 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“It’s the same people that would show up to your house at 3 o’clock in the morning for a medical emergency or a fire call,” Lt. Mike Norton, chair of the CFC committee, told The Forecaster on Tuesday. “Those folks are the ones planning it and some of us play in it as well.”

The first Checking for Charity featured two games in front of over 350 spectators and a 50/50 raffle that raised $7,300. The following year, they raised $14,700 in front of a bigger crowd and have consistently exceeded $20,000 ever since.

“What started as a small idea has really taken off in the community,” said Tobey Farrington, a South Portland firefighter and paramedic and member of the committee. “We have great people who come back every year and support us and then with that comes word of mouth. We have new people and new groups supporting us every year.”


In early Checking for Charity events, firefighters faced the South Portland High School Alumni Team and former professionals went up against community college players. The organization’s website notes those games were lopsided and they’ve since attracted more players – enough for each group to form multiple teams and level the competition. Even firefighters from surrounding communities have turned out to play.

Last year, South Portland Middle School players took part in a skills exhibition, which is returning this year. As is Boston Bruins anthem singer Todd Angilly, who will sing before one of the games, with the South Portland High School Chamber Singers singing the anthem before others. New at the seventh annual event is a Chuck-A-Puck competition.

The primary beneficiary of this year’s event is Make-A-Wish Maine. The organization has a goal of granting 80 wishes in 2024, which would be the highest number of wishes the Maine chapter has granted in a single year in 20 years.

“It’s organizations like the South Portland Firefighters and the local donors who support their efforts that make this possible,” said Kate Vickery, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Maine. “For them to take on organizing this event in addition to all that they do for our communities in their everyday work is really special and we are so grateful.”

Norton said Checking for Charity was “flying high” after its first three events.

“Then, we got three days away from our 2020 event and, basically, everything stopped,” he said.


The COVID-19 pandemic forced the fourth annual event to be postponed, but it returned in 2021 in the form of a livestream and an online silent auction. The auction has remained part of the annual event, and this year will begin at noon Thursday, March 21.

The South Portland Firefighters are proud that the event also supports local charities, and local businesses and organizations are happy to provide plenty of support.

“We’ve made relationships and partnerships with businesses and vendors to really make sure that the maximum amount of every dollar goes to a cause,” Norton said. “I like to think that we’re different from a lot of fundraisers in that regard.”

Norton and Farrington said organizing Checking for Charity requires a lot of extra work and they’re grateful for all the firefighters and their families who participate.

“All the hard work is worth it when you’re able to support these organizations that need the help, and we couldn’t do it without all the individuals and businesses that support us,” Farrington said.

“It’s a lot of work for a group of firefighters just trying to raise a little bit of money,” Norton said. “It’s been a ride, it’s been fun.”

For more information on Checking for Charity, how to support the organization, access to this year’s silent auction and the schedule of next weekend’s event, visit

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