Hundreds of pairs of used ice skates were pulled from basements, closets and garages this weekend and given new life.
The ice skates – as many as 400 pairs and counting – were donated by the community as part of the Good Neighbor Skate Drop-Off to benefit a new skating program at Martin Luther King Park.
Organizers were overwhelmed.
“It just reflects what a great city we have and how generous people are,” said Thomas Herrera-Mishler, chief executive officer and president of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. “It’s also a reflection of what a hockey town we are.”
The donated skates will be loaned out at the park’s casino so people can enjoy the free ice skating planned this winter at the new basin in the park, Herrera-Mishler said.
The City of Buffalo and Olmsted Parks Conservancy will be able to offer ice skating in the park after 10 subfreezing days in a row, Herrera-Mishler said.
“We’re just so excited that for the first time in 50 years there’s going to be free skating at MLK Park,” he said.
The Good Neighbor Skate Drop-Off was organized by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.
“Our main reason we wanted to get behind this is to give the community an opportunity to get out and get healthy during the winter months, which isn’t always easy,” said Kyle Rogers, a public relations specialist with BlueCross BlueShield.
The drive-by drop-off began Friday morning at the headquarters of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York on West Genesee and Seventh streets.
The drop-off continued from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Pure Hockey on Sheridan Drive in Amherst, where those donating used skates got a chance to meet Sabres Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Myers.
At least 400 pairs of skates were dropped off through Saturday, and they will be cleaned and sharpened by Pure Hockey before being turned over to the Olmsted Parks Conservancy for the skating program, Rogers said.
There’s still time to donate.
Skates will be collected at the entrances of First Niagara Center from 3 to 5:30 p.m. today before the puck drops between the Sabres and Washington Capitals.
“This is a good opportunity to get them out of the closet and get them in the hands of people who could enjoy getting out on the ice,” Herrera-Mishler said.