So here is how we put this all together. These are just guidelines....your own needs may vary of course.
4 Easy steps!!!
Get some gear together.
This is easier than you might think. Try canvassing some schools in your area. We also had the opportunity
to approach a couple private schools in bigger cities....they were especially generous.
Church groups may be a good choice as well.
Sort through the equipment carefully to be sure all is in good nick. Pay attention to helmets/cages and their missing screws!
You will likely find that there will be 'holes' in your stock of gear. Due to our mandate (no kid turned away) I always find
that I am having to buy a few things each season. Try Salvation Army stores... a terrific source,and
prices are often $2-$5 per item. Try Kijiji as well as any local classifieds.
There are also lots of community classifieds on Facebook.
Talk to retailers...even the local Canadian Tire store gives us great deals, usually cost, once they hear what you are
doing. Don't be afraid to tell your story of how you are putting kids on the ice. Nothing wrong with shameless promotion!
We find that gloves, sticks and jocks are the items you will buy most often...the wear-out and breakables.
You will get lots of skates!
Our arena had some space they were willing to give us for the gear....way back in that no-zone behind the rink corners.
It works out fine...we don`t lock it up so kids and parents can find what they need at any time. I know some gear goes astray.
That doesn`t trouble us...need is need. We do sort it out every couple of weeks, but generally it stays surprisingly organised.
The gear room generally 'feeds it's self" after a while. You will find kids trading in their small stuff,
and donations tend to roll in on their own over the season.
Cut a deal with your arena.
Talk to your arena staff, and who ever is in charge of your recreation programmes.
Our regular ice rental fee was $90 per hour...a bit on the lower end. We were able to secure a per-head rate
of $2.00 per skater, which is the common charge for a programme if it were under the umbrella of the township.
Your efforts in the negotiation is key to keeping costs down.
We choose not to involve sponsors. The main reason for that is to keep it simple. Company sponsors, stores and other businesses,
may want something in return. We choose not to be beholding to anyone. Keep it simple. Should some friends or neighbours choose
to shoot you a few bucks in support, and they likely will once word gets out, accept gratefully! Maybe a note of thanks
in your local community paper perhaps.
Get Some Help
Every town has some real hockey fanatics. If you are reading this, you are one of them! Try to find a young guy or two
that might be willing to volunteer some time to be on the ice with your kids.
We soon had several offers from ex-OHL and the like, some coaches wanting to keep in shape,
and even high school students....you could set them up with their required community service programmes.
Talk it up!
We found Facebook quite useful in getting the word out, and we set up a page for our gang. Posters around town as well.
Announcement's at your schools...whatever works in your town.
Maybe you have a community newspaper...We have a page rep for our town, and he gives us some space most weeks.
Promote it shamelessly!