Drawing depicting children in various sports activities

Illustrations By LeeAndra Cianci

5 places to donate kids’ sports gear in Toronto and the GTA

These organizations will give that equipment a new life, and you’ll feel great supporting a good cause

From helmets and hockey sticks to uniforms and soccer cleats, the price of children’s sports and athletic equipment can be an unaffordable luxury for many local parents. In fact, an Ipsos poll noted that more than half of Canadian families reported financial strain due to their kids’ extracurricular activities.

“Access to sports should be a right, not a privilege,” says Evan Kosiner, co-founder of Skate To Great, a volunteer-run, child-focused non-profit that collects and distributes new and used skates, helmets and hockey sticks. “No matter the financial or physical barriers that a kid has, there’s something magical about being on the ice. It’s one of the few activities that you know you’re going to fall or fail at, but you’re going to get back up and be better for it.”

Kosiner says that the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at Skate To Great is all worth it when they see children take to the ice for the very first time. “Many at-risk communities across Canada have flourished with skates provided to their local organizations,” he says. “We’ve even had kids who are visually impaired get to go skating with volunteers.”

Have extra children’s sports gear that you’d like to donate? These five charities in Toronto and the GTA will accept your new or gently used items.

Drawing of boy playing hockey

1Skate To Great

Where: 875 Don Mills Rd., North York

How to donate: You can bring skates, sticks and helmets to drop-off locations across Toronto and the GTA, including multiple participating Play It Again Sports stores.

Who it helps: Skate To Great’s mandate is to provide every child in Canada the opportunity to skate. As of last year, they had distributed more than 50,000 pairs of skates to kids in need by teaming up with community organizations, such as United Way partner agency Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto.

Drawing of girl with bike

2Bikes Without Borders

Where: 570 Shaw St., Toronto

How to donate: All sizes of bikes are accepted, but youth and smaller adult models are preferred. Bikes Without Borders operates out of a Toronto District School Board school, so prior to donating, you must call or text one of Bikes Without Borders’ contacts to arrange a drop-off time. Visitors are not otherwise permitted on TDSB property.

Who it helps: Currently, Bikes Without Borders is providing bikes to settled refugees in Toronto and the GTA through groups like United Way partner agency CultureLink Settlement and Community Services. They also distribute internationally through World Vision Canada, including a recent shipment of 35 bikes to Somalia.

Drawing of boy with soccer ball

3Second Kicks

Where: 1776 O’Connor Dr., North York

How to donate: Soccer-related items can be dropped off during office hours at the O’Connor Drive StorageMart, which offers discounted space as part of the company’s Store It Forward program.

Who it helps: Second Kicks collects soccer gear from across the Toronto area to donate to disadvantaged communities worldwide. Previous donations have gone to teams in Northern Canada, Kenya, Peru, Lebanon and beyond.

4

Oasis Clothing Bank

Where: 60 Carnforth Rd., Toronto

How to donate: Skates, roller skates, racquets and various sports balls are accepted, but not team uniforms and hockey pads. Donations can be made at dozens of green drop-off bins across the GTA or by calling 416-751-0553 to arrange free home pickup (minimum of three garbage bags of goods).

Who it helps: Clothing bank donations fund the Oasis Addiction Recovery Society, which provides people in recovery from drugs and alcohol with post-treatment, employment-focused programs that help them maintain their sobriety.

Drawing of girl with tennis racket

5Diabetes Canada

Where: Locations across the GTA

How to donate: Items such as skates, tennis racquets, hockey equipment and sports balls can be dropped off at one of the many donation bins across the city (size limit: goods must fit into a 67 litre garbage bag). Alternatively, you can arrange for free at-home pickup of items packed in boxes or bags weighing no more than 40 pounds.

Who it helps: Funds raised through donations via its partnership with Value Village allow Diabetes Canada to invest $5 million annually into diabetes research projects and send 2,000 children with Type 1 diabetes and their families to D-Camps, which offer diabetes-friendly camp experiences and leadership programs.

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