It started out as one man’s idea, and now the Charlottetown Minor Hockey Equipment Exchange Program helps hundreds of kids across PEI. to play hockey every year.
George Halliwell started the program in 2012 when he was the Equipment Manager for Charlottetown Minor Hockey. There wasn’t much at first.
“I had a friend who worked at the hospital who donated an old laundry tub,” Halliwell said.
“We put him on the UPEI rink. He kind of developed a life of his own. He started filling up with equipment.”
Since then, the program has grown beyond just a bin for donations, though that’s still a part of it. The NHL has donated equipment, and local businesses have stepped up to make hard-to-get items, such as larger skates, available for purchase.
The exchange equips approximately 250 children per year.
No questions asked
Hockey is an expensive sport. Halliwell estimates that it costs around $1,000 to outfit a new player, which may be overkill even for relatively well-to-do families.
It’s a big investment for a sport your child may not even enjoy.
Sometimes families come to pick up materials and return them a few months later when their children have quit, he said.
We have a rule for obtaining the equipment: You must bring your child to be fitted.—George Halliwell
There are no means tests or questions asked, but Halliwell is aware that some families simply could not afford their children to play without the exchange.
“There are people who need help and sometimes it’s hard to ask for help,” he said.
“We have a rule for getting the equipment: you must bring your child to be equipped.
Some families come year after year, he said, returning gear they picked up the previous year and swapping it for a larger size.
The Equipment Exchange is open year-round at Halliwell’s downtown office, Halliwell Consulting, and is open to everyone.