July 24th, 2024

Lions’ campaign connects kids to sports gear

By Mo Cranker on August 28, 2017.

Lions Club of Medicine Hat member James Higgins sorts out some donated skates Saturday at the Hockey Hounds Arena during the club's annual Gear Up Campaign. --NEWS PHOTO MO CRANKER


The Lions Club of Medicine Hat is hoping a little bit of good can go a long way.

The volunteer-based organization held its sixth annual Gear Up equipment drive this past weekend in hopes of helping a few more Hat children get into organized sports.

“This is something we do, just to try and help out where we can,” said club member James Higgins. “Once every year the club tries to collect as much gear as possible, and then give it back to people who need it.”

During last year’s drive, the club helped 84 local children get fit into at least one piece of hockey or ringette gear, and with the economy still not at its strongest, Higgins thinks the program could keep on growing.

“Last year was our biggest, most in-demand yet,” he said. “We are seeing a growing need in the community with families that just need a little bit of help. We know a lot of people have some old gear sitting in the basement that may not be getting used, but as long as it isn’t ripped up, there’s a good chance someone in the community could use it.”

Though he has not put kids through organized sports, Higgins says he understands the high costs involved when trying to have your children playing hockey or ringette every year.

“I think it’s hard on a lot of families that have just one kid. Having three or four can be very hard on a family if they want to all play sports,” he said. “Not only the cost to play, but the equipment is very expensive. When kids are growing up, they can outgrow equipment after one year — we know it’s hard to afford.”

After accepting donations all day Friday and Saturday at the Hockey Hounds Arena, Higgins says roughly 70 people dropped equipment off, and says Sunday’s pick-up day was very busy.

“This morning we had quite the lineup of people at the door. It slowed down a bit as the day went on, but it’s been really good,” he said.”This year we helped 77 kids and I feel like we made a lot of people happy. While we haven’t matched last year’s numbers, it may be a good thing. Maybe things are picking up a bit for people.”

Higgins says the club will be donating some leftover equipment to minor league hockey and ringette, and will keep anything not handed out or donated until next year.

“We’ll definitely be back next year — without a doubt,” said Higgins.

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