Peewee hockey team collects thousands in donations for Bear Clan Patrol

By | December 2, 2019

Hockey player Karst Gruener, 12, chose warm clothing for Winnipeg’s most vulnerable people 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, collected nearly $1,000 in cash to buy items for the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led community group that helps tackle poverty and keep the peace in the inner city. They also collected about 35 big bags of donated items for the Bear Clan.

“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 team stops practice on Monday night to load two pickup trucks with supplies. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

The donations will go to the Bear Clan to give to Winnipeg’s homeless and most vulnerable people, and include items like food, bottled water, socks, mitts and toques.

The boys, who are from Fort Garry and South Winnipeg, were all very excited to help collect donations and purchase the items, said 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.”

Jody Sie, the parent behind the fundraiser, says it has given the hockey families a chance to have frank conversations about poverty and homelessness in Winnipeg. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

It’s also opened up a dialogue in their families that otherwise, they might not have had, she said.

“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?”

In the previous 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, Sie said.

They hope 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.

If the Twins win, they want to give it all 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.

The Peewee twins, a Winnipeg boys hockey team, collected $1,000 and even more in-kind donations for the Bear Clan Patrol. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)