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New life for old equipment

Friday, 06.14.2013 / 8:00 AM

By Michael Spengler - Special to NHL Green / NHL Green Slapshots™

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NHL Green Slapshots™
New life for old equipment

Mike Spengler is the President and Co-Founder of Restore Hockey, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that works to recycle used hockey equipment back into the game.

Rory Tait is a 9th grader at New Canaan Country Day School in Connecticut. He and his two younger brothers, James and Charlie, have played hockey for as long as they can remember. They are goalies. In addition to being on the receiving end of many a cold hockey puck, they have developed a love and passion for the sport that is both humbling and admirable. They have grown up in a family where social responsibility is part of their daily lives and, although they are still young, they throw around terms like “social recycling” and “giving back.”

In 2012, the Tait brothers had begun to accumulate quite a bit of used hockey equipment of their own, and realized they were not alone. The boys set up an equipment drive, which quickly cluttered their parents’ garage with used gear.

The brothers donated a portion of the equipment in and around greater Connecticut; however, there was more equipment than most local hockey programs could handle. Enter Restore Hockey.

The Tait family located Restore Hockey online, loaded their family’s truck with equipment, and delivered an enormous donation to the charity.

After receiving the equipment from the Tait family, Restore Hockey brought it back to its processing facility and warehouse, the site of an old antique store (and prior to that, an old horse barn). It is a fitting location for an organization that prides itself on simplicity, but it is also uniquely positioned to remind those who enter, that the game was once played without the creature comforts that have become commonplace in today’s hockey community. With its leaning walls and catalogued sections of used equipment waiting for their next owner, the Restore Hockey warehouse is the place where supporters can feel good about parting with their old equipment.

Just as the Tait family was wrapping up their equipment drive, three former hockey players and friends – Jaffrie Perrotti, John Kelly and Bobby Nagle –realized that the sport they grew up with was no longer as accessible in their community as it was for them in their youth. They are members of a place known for its grit – Charlestown, Massachusetts. Charlestown residents have contributed to the allure of the Boston skyline and embody the character that has recently been deemed “Boston Strong,” in the aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings. These three gentlemen understand the challenges inherent to life in Charlestown and set out on a mission to couple their love of the game with the love of their city.

Perrotti, Kelly and Nagle established Skating to Success in 2012 with a primary goal of providing Charlestown’s low-income and at-risk youth with ‘cost free’ access to the game of ice hockey. They do not charge tuition, nor do they require their participants to purchase their own equipment. The organization, which set out to enlist enough youths in their community to field a team, was overwhelmed by the response and quickly faced a dilemma in how to outfit kids with the proper equipment.

Perrotti took a ride out to the Restore Hockey warehouse. In just a few hours, the two organizations were able to fulfill the remaining equipment needs for an additional 35 children, many who would be stepping on the ice for the first time in their life.

Much of this equipment came by way of the Tait family.

Here, Restore Hockey facilitated a full-circle recycling effort that took the good deeds of a well-grounded family in Connecticut and helped turn their efforts into greater access to the game of hockey for the children of Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Collecting your old hockey gear from the attic or basement and making it available for others is an easy way to help the environment and grow the sport we all love. We encourage all NHL fans to support their communities by recycling the game.

Fans in the New York City metro area can donate their used hockey equipment this weekend. Upon collection, non-profit Restore Hockey will refurbish all donated gear, which will be delivered to youth community-based hockey programs in need of support. Accepted items include helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads, hockey pants, shin pads, gloves, skates and sticks. Donors will receive a 15% discount at the NHL Powered by Reebok store.

Where? The NHL Powered by Reebok Store, in New York City (1185 Avenue of the Americas at 47th street)

When? Today, Friday, June 14 through Sunday, June 16