Enough donated hockey gear to fill a small trailer covered several parking lot spaces in front of Kirby’s Source for Sports on Thursday.
The collection, soon to be headed north to Kinngait, Nunavut, is the result of a call for donations from RCMP officer Josh Cook, a Vancouver Island University graduate, who used to play with the VIU Mariners hockey team.
The call for hockey gear came after an eight-year-old child in the community asked Cook if he could borrow his skates.
“[He] recognizes there’s a gap for hockey gear,” said Staff Sgt. Donovan Tait, of the Nanaimo RCMP.
Cook called on VIU Mariners staff, former teammates and Nanaimo RCMP members to see if some hockey gear couldn’t be donated.
“[He] said he felt bad, but he’s got a size-10 skate, so we got to talking and so this just mushroomed from there.” said Myles Parsons, VIU Mariners hockey club president.
Parsons said he put out an e-mail to friends and associates who he figured had hockey equipment they were no longer using and might want to donate.
Some of the Mariners players also have part-time jobs with Kirby’s Source for Sports, which also got involved in the donation drive.
The population of Kinngait is about 1,200, but there are children and youths in surrounding communities who will also benefit from the donations.
The VIU Mariners, Oceanside Generals, Noon Hour Hockey Group, Nanaimo Buccaneers junior B hockey team and the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association were some of the groups that immediately contributed donations.
In just three days, about 80 of pairs of skates, 80 hockey sticks, 75 pairs of gloves, 40 helmets, plus pants, shin pads, jerseys and other gear have been donated.
While the organizers look for a way to get the gear transported to Nunavut, they are still looking for donations of more hockey gear, especially in children’s sizes, over the coming weeks. Parsons said he’ll be at the Nanaimo Ice Centre parking lot the next three Saturdays, May 1, 8 and 15, from noon-2 p.m. with the VIU Mariners trailer to load any donated gear.
“Anyone who wants to donate any more equipment or sticks, especially children’s sizes, we would certainly appreciate it,” Parsons said.
For more information or to make a donation, contact Parsons at 250-713-9398.