It started out as one man's idea, and now Charlottetown Minor Hockey's equipment exchange program helps hundreds of kids from all over P.E.I. 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 to it in the early days.
"I had a friend that worked in the hospital that donated an old laundry bin," said Halliwell.
"We put it at the rink at UPEI. It sort of developed a life of its own. It started filling up with equipment."
Since then the program has grown beyond just a bin for donations, though that is still part of it. The NHL has donated equipment, and local businesses pitch in so that items that are hard to get, such as larger-size skates, can be purchased.
The exchange equips about 250 children a year.
No questions asked
Hockey is an expensive game. Halliwell estimates it costs about $1,000 to kit out a new player, which can be a stretch even for relatively well off families.
It's a big investment for a sport your child may not even enjoy.
Sometimes families will come in for equipment and return it a couple of months later when their children quit, he said.
There is no means test and no questions asked, but Halliwell is aware there are some families who simply could not afford for their children to play without the exchange.
"There's people that need help and sometimes it's hard to ask for help," he said.
"We have one rule to get the equipment, you have to bring your child to get fitted."
Some families come in year after year, he said, returning equipment they picked up the year before and exchanging it for a larger size.
The equipment exchange is open year-round at the Halliwell's downtown office, Halliwell Consulting, and is open to everyone.