Their co-operative effort, along with All Seasons Sports Exchange's George Manias and several community volunteers, means the popular Hockey for Everyone program is back for its third season at the Tillsonburg Kinsmen Memorial Arena.
The program, available to children in Grades 3-7, provides an opportunity for all youth interested in playing hockey who are not currently registered in a minor hockey program, to try the sport from the first week of January to mid-March.
"And it's for boys and girls," noted Club Oxford president Kim Alexander.
There are no fees for ice time or equipment, Alexander stressed. The funds raised cover the cost of ice rentals and the purchase of good-quality, second-hand hockey gear from Manias at 40 Broadway. Also, many local residents donate equipment to help put kids on the ice, and teachers, skating coaches and other hockey-minded volunteers give of their time to help make it happen.
"Rolph Street teachers Dan Dube and Craig MacDougall have been the main guys on the ice," said Alexander. "Eric Britton is also quite heavily involved in it. And last year we had Penny Jelsma and Lindsay Tribble volunteer as our skating coaches. They're really good with the beginners."
"My involvement, if we're missing pieces of equipment from donations," said Manias, "is to supply whatever is needed to shore things up," said Manias, whose current stock of second-hand equipment runs about 75-80 per cent hockey items. "They pick and choose from the inventory. People also drop off donations here as well."
"We accept equipment and financial donations," Alexander nodded.
"George and Kim have been the advocates for the program and hats off to them," said Dave Martin of the Tillsonburg Kinsmen Club, noting the club's mandate is 'serving the community's greatest needs.'
"We felt this program definitely fell under that category – the greatest needs of the community – so we support it."
Alexander outlined several steps to get involved in Hockey for Everyone.
First is to register, which can be done at the Grade 3-7 students' elementary schools.
Second, complete a request for equipment form if necessary.
Third, get outfitted at the Community Centre's Marwood Lounge on Friday, Dec. 27, between noon and 4 p.m.
Fourth, make the necessary transportation arrangements. Ice times are Thursday and Friday mornings, 7-8 a.m., depending on their age. Juniors, including Grade 3-4 and some Grade 5s, skate Thursday mornings, and Seniors, Grade 6-7 and some Grade 5s, skate Friday mornings.
"It's totally free, equipment and ice time," said Alexander.