Nick Lees: Passionate bike mechanic is thanked by Sport Central and Christmas Kettle campaign kicks off

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Jim Harvey estimates that he has tweaked or rebuilt 40,000 bicycles over the past 20 years to help parents in need give their child the gift of their dreams, a bicycle.

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“Some of the bikes were only good for parts,” said Harvey, who poetically pulled away from Sport Central and headed into the sunset on Friday. It was his 70th birthday on Friday and it was his last paid day at Sport Central.

“I plan to continue helping out in the bike shop, but not as much,” he said. “My wife Louise and I recently became grandparents to twins and would love to spend more time with them.”

Twenty years ago, Harvey retired from a management position at Telus and, while considering future options, he joined other parents parking cars at Oilers games to help raise money. funds for minor hockey teams.

Then he discovered Sport Central. “I’ve always had a passion for working on bikes and when I found out about the work Sport Central was doing and they needed bike mechanics, I joined the charity,” said he declared. “We raise funds to salvage, repair, recycle and redistribute sports equipment to children whose parents cannot afford to play.”

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In time, Harvey also served as director and general manager of Sport Central, playing a role in expanding the charity from a single building at the bike shop as a stand-alone facility north of the main building. on 119 Avenue, east of the Northlands. Coliseum.

“Bikes and skates are our most sought-after sporting goods,” Harvey said. “But we’re also helping across Alberta and beyond with equipment for 13 other sports, including hockey, shinny, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, tennis, badminton and in-line skating. There are approximately 50 locations in Edmonton, including police stations and fire stations, where gently used sports equipment can be dropped off.

“Around 120 agencies refer qualified families to Sport Central. And Christmas always brings huge demand.

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Sport Central has distributed approximately 2,500 bikes and 4,000 pairs of skates per year for the past few years for a combined annual value of approximately $3 million.

“The pandemic is impacting all families in one way or another,” Harvey said. It also put a stop to some team sports. “But it’s better to be prepared to get the kids to play sports when you can rather than letting them end up drifting onto the streets.

“If we don’t give them a team in the future to play on, the bad guys will. Sports kids also make friends and learn to deal with the ups and downs of victory and defeat that we all encounter in life.

Christmas kettle campaign
Six-time ice hockey Olympian and future doctor Hayley Wickenheiser and Major John Hoeft of the Salvation Army launch the Hope in the City initiative of the Christmas Kettle 2020 campaign. Nick Lees/Postmedia Provided

The kettle is heating up

Six-time ice hockey Olympian and future doctor Hayley Wickenheiser launched the Salvation Army’s 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign last week.

Now in his final year of medical school at the University of Calgary, Wickenheiser took time out to study for exams to help raise money for people living in poverty via a virtual TV show.

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Donations made through traditional Christmas kettles in malls and other public places go to support local programs, making a difference in every community. It will look different in this pandemic year, but volunteers will still be a big part of the effort.

Last year, The Salvation Army served more than 350,000 free meals at shelters and community programs across Alberta, from Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray to Medicine Hat. Schools received 76,000 additional meals.

“The military also provided more than a quarter of a million nights of shelter, addiction, drug rehabilitation and mental health, while life skills, tax assistance and English as a second language programs helped nearly 4,500 people,” said Patrick LaForge, Honorary President of the Salvation Army of Hope in the City 2020.

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“Rest assured that we are doing whatever it takes to keep volunteers and donors safe,” said Major Al Hoeft, Salvation Army Divisional Public Relations Secretary for Alberta and Northern Territories. .

“A two-hour shift can send a child to summer camp, provide a hot meal for 40 people, or hampers for two families.”

Wickenheiser has had great success with its latest campaign, an effort to help hospital staff get proper protective gear during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Her EPP campaign was heard by friend, actor and philanthropist Ryan Reynolds, who called to ask if she would like him to ‘amplify’ her message.

“I knew within 10 minutes 35 million people would get the message,” she said. Once he shared the campaign, “within 24 hours we received 300 legitimate emails from people around the world who wanted to step in and be part of the EPP campaign.”

For the Kettle Drive, locations are available across the city Monday through Saturday and volunteers are provided with kettle orientation videos to assist them. They cover topics such as what to expect on a shift, how to interact with the public, how to handle donations and of course COVID-19 safety procedures. To donate online or volunteer, go to fillthekettle.com.

nlees@postmedia.com

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Ruth J. Leeds