Super support system

ALISON KORN

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Why, oh why, didn't I order Olympic red mittens back in October? Now there are none to be had.

More than a million pairs of the red-hot mitts have been bought since going on sale Oct. 1, and shelves are now sold out. This week another 300,000 pairs will be shipped to stores across the country. For absent-minded shoppers, it's almost too late to put a little Vancouver under the tree.

"Already one in 34 Canadians owns a pair of Vancouver 2010 Red Mittens," Dennis Kim, director of licensing and merchandising for VANOC, said. "That's a staggering statistic given that we expected sales to peak in January and February."

Fear not -- there are still official 2010 Olympic hoodies, tuques and scarves available. Also worth collecting are pins, stuffed animal mascots and posters from the site http://www.vancouver2010.com/. Another line of Olympic-themed clothing is the BELIEVE/IMAGINE campaign online at CTVOlympics.ca/store.

The Royal Canadian Mint has a dazzling 2010 Olympic collection at www.mint.ca, with items ranging from a sterling silver "Lucky Loonie" ($54.93) to the "Fine Gold Kilo Coin -- The Eagle," for a mere $54,000.

A little more lowbrow is the $3.99 Vancouver 2010 Olympic glassware, now featuring the third model in the set, the "Garibaldi" coffee mug. They recently have become hard to find. The fourth and final design will be available in January 2010 on the Olympic site and at Petro-Canada locations. (My dad found these glasses so awesome that, last fall, he filled up his suitcase with them to bring back to his place in the Middle East, to wow the ex-pat crowd around the table at Thanksgiving.)

While it's tempting to go overboard on the Olympic collectibles, true sporty giving would entail not just buying stuff but donating to amateur sport, too.

The Canadian Athletes Now Fund, for example, has helped more than 120 winter athletes with $6,000 grants in pursuit of their dream to represent Canada on the world stage in Vancouver. It still has 70 winter athletes on its waiting list.

"Many of our athletes are in their final stages of trying to qualify for the Games and are still in need of funding," fund founder and executive director Jane Roos said. "It is the final two months of a lifelong journey and we all have the opportunity to be a part of an athlete's dream. Every contribution enables our athletes to compete at the highest level, knowing that nothing was holding them back."

The fund's "Final Push" campaign aims to raise $740,000 by Dec. 31, asking Canadians for a minimum donation of $10. Donors get a tax receipt and find out which Canadian athlete they have supported. Visit www.CanadianAthletesNow.ca.

A couple of other tax-deductible donation options: The Canadian Olympic Foundation (www.olympicfoundation.ca) supports high- performance athletes across all Olympic and Paralympic sports, and is suggesting donations of $20.10.

The Canadian Paralympic Foundation's vision is to raise funds to contribute to and enrich, through sport, the lives of Canadians with physical disabilities.

It supports Canadian Paralympic athletes on the world stage and aims to create a sustainable source of funding by building a $20-million Paralympic Legacy Fund. For more information, visit www.paralympic.ca.

And for gamblers, the Vancouver 2010 Lottery is a $10 national instant game with a chance to win one of 40 VIP packages to the Olympics, 20 prizes of $100,000 and more. Each ticket has 10 Olympic-themed play areas, and players can win up to five times on each ticket. Tickets went on sale Oct. 13 and will be sold until Dec. 25. If you get these, be on the ball: prizes must be claimed by 5 p.m. on Dec. 30.

alison_korn@hotmail.com


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