By: Daniel Vazzoler
It’s about to get louder at the Carleton Place Arena for upcoming Carleton Place Canadians games as the McKay Roofing Elementary School Ticket program begins with the first game being on Sunday against the Ottawa Jr Senators.
As they have in the past, the Carleton Place Canadians and McKay Roofing are teaming up once again to give Carleton Place area elementary students a chance to go see the Canadians play. The players have begun their rounds heading into the local elementary schools to hand tickets to students that have been generously donated by Kevin McArthur.
McArthur, owner of McKay Roofing, and Jason Clarke are in the sixth season of running this program and are resuming their partnership this week with the McKay Roofing Elementary School Ticket program.
“I’ve been involved in hockey all my life, and my family has, and it was a way to give back a little something,” McArthur said. “It’s a great program, each of the elementary kids in Carleton Place, Beckwith and Mississippi Mills will get a ticket purchased on my behalf and it gives the kids a chance to see one of the best junior hockey teams in the country, if they’ve never had a chance to before.”
McArthur says Clarke was the one who brought up the idea of forming this program.
“One of the things was we wanted to start a program where we can give back to the community and show our appreciation,” Clarke explained. “Another thing is stirring up some interest in the youth about our hockey team by staying active in our community and generating some interest not only in our team but in hockey in general.”
The ticket program is the biggest program the Canadians run throughout the season, and is also the most popular program.
“From talking with Jason, the program is growing every year and there seems to be a lot of interest in it,” McArthur said. “It’s an inexpensive night for the kids and their parents and, for kids who have never been exposed to the game, it gives them a chance to see some of the best hockey in the region.”
Clarke added the participation rate of the tickets is “off the charts.”
“The parents and the kids really enjoy coming to the games and seeing how good the hockey is and how competitive it is.”
The donation of the tickets from McArthur is only a part of the program. The other half is there is a competitive nature to this as the school that has the highest attendance at its game – each school is given tickets to a different game – receives a $500 donation to the school’s athletic program.
Both Clarke and McArthur said cut-backs from government funding is a big reason for the donation.
“Right now, the government is cutting back funding for elementary schools and it’s difficult for them to maintain things with the budget they have,” McArthur explained. “This is just something that helps out the schools’ athletic programs.
“As I’ve said before, I’m a big believer in kids getting involved in sports – whether it’s hockey, or volleyball or any other activity in school – because I think it helps kids develop in a team environment and they learn skills there that help them in life. When they get out into the work force or whatever career they choose, they have to learn to deal with people and co-operate with them,” he continued.
“We’re a sports team and we wanted to see the money get used towards the athletics of the schools so the kids can stay active, the schools can purchase new equipment and provide new opportunities for their students to do different things,” Clarke added. “We want to make sure the kids don’t miss out on anything and we felt it was the right thing to do to be able to donate money right to their athletic departments.”
The impact from the ticket program still works its way back to McArthur – even though he isn’t around the rink as much these days – with people stopping him in the streets. The biggest time he sees how much of an impact the program has in the community is when he’s at the school to make the presentation, McArthur said.
Part of what keeps McArthur coming back to help with this initiative, he says, is the fact it allows families the opportunity for a night out – something that isn’t always easy these days.
“It’s tougher now for every young family to get out and to spend money on leisure activities and sports. This gives them a free night, and that’s important to me, and I think it’s great for the kids and the community.”
With the other initiatives McArthur has in the community, Clarke said it was an easy decision to team up with him for this donation.
“Kevin’s a pillar in our community and, not only does he have this initiative, he does a lot of other community initiatives. That’s what great about living in a small town and having small-town businesses, just being community-oriented and he obviously takes a lot of pride in it, and so do we as an organization.”