A week after residents were driving through the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium parking lot for a reverse Santa parade, more cars were driving through to drop off donations for a good cause.

Truck-loads of hockey equipment were piling up for a drive that had all proceeds going to youth in 35 First Nations communities across Ontario.

“I wanted to do something to give back to the community and this was my way of doing it,” said lead project volunteer Graham McWaters. “I just reached out to a lot of people all over, some as far as Ottawa. Even the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have helped us out in the past.”

McWaters adds that the goal of the drive is to give the youth in the communities a chance to play, learn team building skills, and get active.

Volunteers from the area and local hockey teams collected the donations and sorted them by item and size.

The First Nations Hockey Equipment Drive has been going on in communities across Ontario for the past five years, but this is the first time it’s happened in Waterloo Region.

“It appears I’m getting double to triple the amount I normally get, so that tells me the community has a really big heart,” said McWaters.

Each item collected will be sanitized and distributed to First Nations youth next year.

“It’s great to give back to the community and certainly help folks that may not be able to afford to play hockey, because it’s a great sport,” said Waterloo resident James Craig. “Both of our kids have gone through and enjoyed it, so to be able to share that joy is a wonderful experience.”