Rubie and Ruben Jegatheswaran had outgrown their old skates.
But they were able to replace them when they attended a community free skate event sponsored by 43 Division and the Community Police Liaison Committee at the Heron Park Community Centre in Scarborough on Feb. 15.
Both children smiled as they took home a free pair of gently used skates to use for the rest of the year.
Their mother, Nazmoon Jegatheswaran, a local resident, who brought them to the event, said she and her children had a good time at the ice rink skating, playing and drinking warm hot chocolate.
“We started [coming to the event] two years ago, that’s how Rubie learned to skate,” said Jegatheswaran, adding, “I bring the old ones [skates] to change them and then we get a new pair.”
Linda Tate, a local resident, brought her son, 4, to the event because he had never been on skates before.
“It’s really beneficial for the kids,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to meet other kids and participate in activities that they’ve never done.”
The purpose of the event was “to bring police and residents of the community together,” said Marilyn Hodge, co-chair of 43 Division’s Community Police Liaison. “[And] to foster positive police relationships between residents, kids, adults and make the event so that kids and youth and parents will have more confidence when they approach the police.
“Often lots of people are afraid of the police, so we’re fostering positive attitudes and relationships.”
While the event is sponsored largely by 43 Division and the committee they also receive donations from ProAction, a group working to keep young people active, and the city.
Money, services such as sharpening donated skates, miniature hockey sticks and new laces were donated by companies like Bauer and Kraft.
Mascots Carlton the Bear, from the Toronto Maple Leaf’s and the Marlies’ Duke the dog were invited by the committee, and were on the ice playing with children and skating around a police car that was parked in the middle of the rink.
Volunteer police officers from 43 Division were also on the ice skating and interacting with the children.
Other volunteers from Skating Adventures also helped out instructing first-time skaters and providing children with useful skating aids. After a leisurely skate, participants enjoyed free Country Bits, provided by Country Style and hot chocolate from Tim Hortons.
“The Community Police Liaison Committee has done a great job on getting this organized and getting the skates donated for the kids. Last year, we had over 400 kids come and this year we expect about the same,” said Gary Keys, staff sergeant of 43 Division.
Any skates that are left over from the free skate are saved for next year. Lightly used skates are always appreciated and can be dropped off at the front desk of 43 Division at 4331 Lawrence Ave. E.