The phone call made Ted Pendle’s day.
“In all the years of being with the Sarnia Hockey Association, this was the first time I had a call like this,” says the association’s long-time board member.
It was Greg Robinson on the line, dad to 11-year-old Ethan Robinson. He told Pendle that Ethan had a birthday party recently and asked everyone to waive the presents and donate instead to the hockey association’s Adopt-A-Player program.
“That’s the first time that’s happened,” said Pendle. “I was surprised to have a young boy give up his gifts so someone else can play hockey.”
The Adopt-A-Player program helps pay the $540 registration cost to play house league if a family is struggling financially.
When Ethan added up the donations from his birthday guests, he had $200 to give the program.
“It helps a lot of kids and makes a lot of people happy,” said the Grade 5 student at Errol Village School.
Ethan has played with the Sarnia Hockey Association since he was seven and this year is playing left defence for the Minor Peewee AA team.
“I felt good about giving the money,” he said.
Mom Terri Robinson said Ethan loves hockey.
“We told him how expensive it is to register for the year and that some people don’t get to play because of that. Then he wanted to give up presents and make the donation.”
Adopt-A-Player isn’t the only program in Sarnia-Lambton that helps children from financially-strapped families play hockey.
“But some people out there are embarrassed to ask for help and, with Adopt-A-Player, they can call me about it and it will remain confidential,” said Pendle.
He receives about five calls for assistance a year. “It’s not a high number, but it’s here for those who really need it.”