A community dealing with a disheartening crime has found out help really is close to home.
People in the town of Asquith were angered after someone stole a signed Gordie Howe jersey meant to be raffled off in support of the local hockey arena.
“My hope is that whoever decided that they should take this has had a very thorough public shaming,” said Jody Nehring with the Asquith community sports centre.
Nehring first shared the community’s collective disappointment on 650 CKOM earlier this week. The annual raffle helps keeps the local rink going, with the money covering general maintenance and bills.
She said kids were concerned they might not be able to play hockey this year.
“We had hoped that people would care as much about this as we did as a community – it’s just been beyond our expectations, really,” she said.
Within hours, news spread quickly of the theft. The signed jersey was donated by a relative of Howe’s shortly before the hockey legend’s death in June 2016.
Since then, people from as far away as Windsor, Ont. have called into the Asquith town office to inquire about donating items that might help the town’s raffle; others have offered cash.
But it’s was an Asquith family – who’ve asked to remain anonymous for now– who stepped up to donate their signed Gordie Howe jersey for the town.
“The day has been saved,” Nehring said. “We really appreciate the generosity of this local family.”
Nehring and others associated with the town fundraiser held a meeting Wednesday night to discuss how to respectfully honour all the offers of help.
The group has decided to reach out to each person who called with a potential donation to let them know of the new jersey, and let them know if they still wanted to donate – the offer would be put to use in future fundraisers.
“It’s was an unusual situation having the jersey stolen, but every year we’re struggling to raise funds for our tiny town and our tiny rink,” she said.
“This could mean coverage for making sure our doors stay open for possibly the next few years at least.”
The raffle draw date is set for March 10.
Asquith is located around 40 kilometres west of Saskatoon.