A lot can happen in a decade.
In 2006, when KidSport Tri-Cities launched to help local families pay for sport registrations, it handed out 24 grants. "I remember we were so ecstatic with that number," executive director Chris Wilson said.
But, last year, thanks to proceeds from its spring and summer sales of used sporting equipment as well as the Operation Red Nose drive, a SD43/KidSport golf tournament, pub 50/50 draws and private donations, KidSport Tri-Cities passed out 667 grants totalling more than $163,000.
Wilson said the numbers — and the need — keep rolling in.
Next month, KidSport Tri-Cities will host its spring sale at Port Coquitlam's Riverside secondary school and is asking for residents to clear out their basements to donate bicycles and lacrosse gear — goods that go fast and make a lot of money for the non-profit group.
"We've plateaued at each sale at about $20,000 for the past couple of years," Wilson said. "We have to get beyond that because we are growing so much."
Tri-City families can apply to KidSport for funding up to $300 annually. Typically, the money is split in half to pay for spring and fall registrations such as baseball and soccer.
But Wilson said there's a lot of administration that goes into each application and getting families to fill out forms properly can be a challenge.
To qualify for KidSport, candidates need to be referred by an adult like a principal or school counsellor who can vouch financial need.
But, sometimes, KidSport has to make a judgement call about how much the family requires aid. Affordability can be a tricky subject but, more often than not, the candidate is given the benefit of the doubt, Wilson said.
Wilson, who is also a Coquitlam city councillor, sometimes refers families to the municipality's Get Connected, Get Active program instead. That initiative helps people on low incomes; however, as a local administrator for the Canadian Tire's Jumpstart program, Wilson will also steer families that way to help pay for lessons (which KidSport does not). "There are a lot of decisions that have to be made before an application is considered," Wilson said.
But KidSport Tri-Cities is making decisions on its front, too.
This year, it will no longer fund figure skating (as Jumpstart covers that arena) and if it gains enough money, it hopes to pay for summer sporting camps. "A lot of the families that we help don't necessarily go on summer holidays," Wilson said.
It's also hoping to forge stronger communication ties with local sports groups to help families fill out KidSport forms. Currently, it works with teams registered under SportBC such as Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club, North Coquitlam United Soccer Club, Port Moody Soccer Club, Port Coquitlam FC and Coquitlam minor lacrosse, hockey and football associations, for example.
"We want to make it easy for families who need financial help to get their kids involved in sports at every level," Wilson said.
• The KidSport Tri-Cities' spring sale is March 5 at Riverside secondary school (2215 Reeve St., Port Coquitlam) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is by donation or with a non-perishable item to the Share food bank. Bicycles and lacrosse gear is especially need for the sale; drop off used sports gear from Feb. 24 to March 4 at the PoCo and Port Moody recreation complexes, Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, Riverside secondary, Thriftopolis (2579 Lougheed Hwy., PoCo) and Jim Pattison Hyundai in PoCo.
If you're skilled in bookkeeping and administration — and have some spare time on your hands — KidSport Tri-Cities is looking for your talents. Volunteers can email firstname.lastname@example.org to help out.