Winter comes — we try on our skates, check our hockey gear and bundle up for that first glide on the ice!
But, what if we had no equipment to enjoy a pastime that isn’t just great fun, but also a sanity saver during the long cold season?
Each year, a number of organisations and businesses in Canada voluntarily supply sports gear to families who cannot afford it. In February 2012, CBC Montreal was among them, helping the Montréal Canadiens Children’s Foundation to collect over 350 pairs of skates during the Foundation’s annual skate drive. The new and used skates are intended for needy children for their use at the four (and soon-to-be five) free outdoor community rinks built by the Foundation. The purpose of the Foundation’s “Bleu Blanc Bouge” program is to help local children to be active and healthy and, since its beginnings, the facilities have benefited 45,000 children.
Another program assisting those who love winter sports is the Hockey Night in Canada Help Fund. The Fund was established by CBC Sports and Hockey Night in Canada in 2008 to provide eligible Canadian individuals and non-profit groups facing financial or geographical barriers an opportunity to participate in hockey at the community level across Canada. Funds are raised through an online auction during Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada with the support of the NHL, the NHLPA and Scotiabank. Since its beginnings, the Fund has distributed more than $163,000 to groups across the country.
For 2012, the Hockey Night in Canada Help Fund donated a total of $35,000 to four community groups: Goodsoil Minor Hockey (Saskatchewan), for structural improvements to the local arena; Right to Play, for the purpose of working with the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (Northern Ontario), to implement the Hockey for Development program which teaches life skills through hockey in First Nation communities; KidSport Kitimat (British Columbia), for hockey equipment for local youth whose families cannot afford it; and Pioneer Park Panthers Hockey Club (Southern Ontario), for hockey skills training for local children lacking either the means or the opportunity to participate in a minor hockey program.
Successful candidates from 2011 were: the Essex Kent Ice Bullets (Windsor), for the purchase of sleds and equipment for the program’s youth; the Hamlet of Ulukhatok (Nunavut), to fully equip 10 local players; the Wawa Minor Hockey Association’s Big Puck Program, to assist with registration fees; and Cee Bees Minor Hockey in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador, also for registration fees.
With these successful charitable programs, let’s bring on the Canadian winter with gusto!