Twelve-year-old hockey player Karst Gruener chose warm clothing for Winnipeg’s most vulnerable with two thoughts in mind.
“I was picking out the orange toque. Not just because it’s our team’s colours, but also cause if you’re out at night it’s easier to see you, since you’re not just all black.”
The PeeWee Twins, a AA hockey team in Winnipeg, has collected nearly $1,000 in donations and supplies for the Winnipeg Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led community group that helps tackle poverty and keep the peace in the inner city.
“They’re always helping people, helping to make the streets cleaner and not as dangerous,” Gruener said.
The 11- and 12-year-old boys stopped their practice at the Max Bell Arena on Monday night to load two pickup trucks full of supplies.
“It is a good thing for our community, and it’s just very helpful for people who don’t have the same stuff we do,” Gruener said.
The donations will go to Bear Clan to give to Winnipeg’s homeless and most vulnerable, and include items like food, bottled water, socks, mitts and toques.
The boys team, who are from Fort Garry and South Winnipeg, were all very excited to help collect donations and purchase the items, according to Jody Sie, the hockey parent behind the idea.
“Sometimes when you get little boys, or even kids, they don’t really get it,” she said. “[But] they’ve all been so supportive.”
“When we went shopping, they were the first to talk to a manager and ask for a discount, and being really mindful about the things they bought, and stretching their dollar.”
She said it’s also opened up a dialogue in their families that they might not have otherwise had.
“Some of the parents have been telling me they’ve all had some really frank discussions with their kids, and their kids have had some tough questions [for them] to answer … like why are people living on the street in such a cold city?”
Sie said in the last two years, the team took old hockey socks and filled them with items that one person living on the street might need. But this year, they wanted to go bigger.
They’re hoping to enter the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, which encourages young peewee-age teams to give back. The winner of the Canada-wide competition is given $100,000 to give to a charity of their choice. The Twins said if they win, they want to give the total amount to the Bear Clan.
James Favel, the executive director of Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol, said he hopes the donations will carry them through most of the winter.
“They’re from outside of our community, and they’re still so keen to help us. That’s really fantastic,” Favel said.