SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Equipment Committee, partnered with KidSport, is looking for a permanent home to store its athletic gear donations.

“We have a surplus of inventory because of COVID and because sports programing hasn’t happened. We have looked for opportunities to try and send some equipment so kids can be outside,” said Saskatoon Equipment Committee chair Kelsie Fraser.

“We did donate some to the Saskatoon Police Service last summer. They had done something to put sports equipment in Pleasant Hill Park for kids. We’re looking for opportunities like that.”

Many items are donated from the community, while cash donations go to purchase new items.

Since the program started in 2017, a local business has stored all of the equipment. But organizers said they are no longer able to keep it and must find a new location by Friday.

A few storage sites have been suggested, but it’s challenging to keep all of the gear in one place, they said. Ideally, they want to find a permanent home for their donations that’s between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet, with a possible storefront where families can come and try on the equipment.

The idea for a storefront came from an organization in Edmonton called Sport Central, which does similar work and has donated equipment to the Saskatoon group.

The equipment committee and KidSport have donated to communities such as Yellow Quill First Nation, George Gordon First Nation and Île-à-la-Crosse, along with larger cities like Regina.

Fraser said they’re hoping to eliminate financial barriers so kids can play sports.

Since the local program started, Fraser said, 1,700 kids have benefitted from donated sports equipment. This is estimated to cost about $700,000.

Local groups and businesses are helping the cause, such as Knights of Columbus, Canadian Tire and Rosenau Transport.

To get equipment, families can fill out a form with KidSport.

KidSport helps with registration fees for organized sports.