BY JOSH KENNEDY
People living on the streets, fighting the cold weather and looking for something to eat are getting help from Hockey Helps the Homeless.
The organization was founded in 1996 by a group of Toronto business professionals who decided to make an annual industry hockey tournament into a charity event. It is a volunteer-driven organization that hosts fantasy hockey tournaments in various Canadian cites including Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Each team has at least two NHL alumni and three Canadian Women Hockey League alumni playing on it. All of the proceeds go to charities involving the homeless, such as the House of Friendship, which specializes in helping children, youth, men and women with low income and offering them healthier lives by feeding them and providing shelters and supportive housing.
In Waterloo Region there are more than 2,800 people who are homeless.
“Homeless people are affected in many ways, such as mental illness or abuse,” said Mark Wolf, the committee head of the Kitchener-Waterloo men’s team. “And these charities are perfect to get them the help they need.”
The Top 5 fundraising teams this year are Parkway Ford ($3,490), Team WalterFedy ($3,245), Freedom 55 Financial ($785), Waterloo Fire Rescue ($435) and KW Oldtimers ($270). To date, Hockey Helps the Homeless has raised over $3.5 million in donations.
The organization has many sponsors for their events. Locally they include CTV, Kool FM, KFUN and the Kitchener Rangers.
To assist the organization, the Waterloo Fire Rescue recently held car washes at their station on Sept. 27 and Oct. 4.
“We are trying to raise money so we can get a team together that is sponsored by the city fire department,” said Fred TenEyck, the captain training officer at Waterloo Fire Rescue Station No. 3. “We are hoping to raise $6,000. One hundred per cent of the raised funds will be going to local homeless charities.”
The actual hockey tournament will take place on Oct. 24 at RIM Park for those interested in watching the action. Teams will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with a banquet. Each team member will receive his own professional personalized jersey. Teams are guaranteed three games and each player must raise at least $350 in donations.
For more information on how to register for this tournament and other upcoming events, go to www.hockeyhelpsthehomeless.com