Gear Up Kids Foundation is a volunteer-operated, non-profit group, of community-minded individuals from Stettler who want to see children in need have access to necessary sports equipment required for an active childhood in Stettler and the surrounding area.
Nine executive members make up the board. They are Len Hoac the president/founder, Rena Hogg, Jason Hegberg, Katie Bainbridge, Kathy Hoopfer, Kenton Hoopfer, Erin Prehn, Greg Risler and Clint Greiner.
Sheldon Oleksyn and Wilf Brooks of Edmonton Sport Central, Brooke Christianson, Greg Switenky, Dick Richards and Rob Granfieldall help in launching this new organization as well as overwhelming support from local individuals and businesses.
Since 2007 Len has been collecting used equipment at the The Brick in Stettler for Sport Central in Edmonton. A couple times each year he takes a truck load of equipment to donate to their organization. It was their organization that was the inspiration to start a similar one in Stettler.
Gear Up Kids is a kids foundation with a mission to provide new, donated and refurbished equipment at no cost to kids in need who would otherwise be denied the opportunity to participate in sport.
The group accepts gently used and new sports equipment from our donors. However, there are still many items that Gear Up must purchase for both safety and inventory purposes.
We get equipment into the hands the kids in need through an application process. The equipment is for all kids in need not just those kids who are registered in an organized sport.
Maybe you can’t afford to play hockey for example through an organization, but you’d like to be able to take your kids to the rink to play shinny, but you can’t afford skates, a helmet, and a stick, that’s where we come into help.
Not every child plays hockey, baseball, or soccer for example in an organization, but they may love to play in their back yard, at the outdoor rink, or with their friends after school and we want to make sure all kids have the opportunity to have the equipment to do this.
They have a large supply of all kinds of sporting equipment at Gear Up Kids Centre located at 5009 48th Street, Stettler, for hockey, figure skating, dance, baseball, soccer, football, golf, lacrosse, basketball, badminton, tennis and skiing.
They also have scooters, bikes and rollerblades too. If there is a sport they don’t have the equipment they will do what they can to try and get the equipment for that sport to help the child in need.
There are two ways families can apply for sports equipment. One is a letter of referral sent to Gear Up Kids Foundation from the referring agency. Referrals come to us from KidSport, Heartland Youth Center, social service agencies, teachers, counsellors, coaches, or community workers.
Or families can fill out the equipment request form telling us a little bit about their situation of being in need and they can submit the directly to Gear Up for approval.
The idea is that families who receive equipment from us bring back old equipment they have outgrown, continuing the cycle of giving.
Gear Up’s first priority is to provide equipment for kids and youth in the Stettler and surrounding area. Gear Up will also consider equipment requests from communities outside of our immediate area.
Gear Up for Kids fundraising efforts included a free Kids Carnival with inflatable bouncy houses and games and activities on Sept. 24 for kids along with a charity barbeque.
In December they are teaming up with the Skateboard park committee and will be putting on the annual Community Christmas Party.