By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

The Columbia Valley Rockies took a shot at fundraising to help cover the costs of purchasing and operating a new Junior B team bus and scored in the process.

Hockey fans and community supporters have assisted the team this year to raise a total of $130,000 to fund a new team bus, which is valued at $230,000.

The longstanding tradition of having a Rockies athlete chop, pile and sell firewood to the community is where a majority of the raised funds come, with help from a wide variety of financial backers.

The wood pile program has been going on for basically as long as the Rockies have been fundraising for buses so its almost as old as the team itself, said Graeme Anderson, Columbia Valley Rockies director of hockey operations and president. The original intention was that the wood pile would fund the team bus for the Rockies and, in more recent years, when the team was not having good results and we werent having big attendances, the wood pile went into funding team operations.

But over the last three years, Mr. Anderson and the Columbia Valley Rockies board members have been working towards changing the woodpile initiative back into a fundraiser for a team bus.

Basically, the main intention of the woodpile is to fund the Rockies bus and most of the money that we have contributed as a team (toward the bus), a large part of it comes from the wood pile, he explained. Theres also grant money and the (Lake Windermere) Lions made a huge contribution to the new bus that were purchasing.

Mr. Anderson believes the option to purchase firewood from the Rockies is a community service. There are four volunteers who help the Rockies run the woodpile program on a regular basis during the hockey season.

Were providing an affordable source of wood and we also try to help senior citizens who arent able to pile the wood themselves. We try to facilitate, to help, but we cant do that all the time, he added.

The Lake Windermere Lions Club agreed to fund the Rockies dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000, which the Rockies have surpassed by bringing in $130,000.

The (bus) purchase is currently ongoing, said Mr. Anderson on October 30th. We should have it within the next week or so. Its approximately $230,000 in total.

Theres no shortage of fundraising efforts to help the Rockies to continue to advance. Calgary resident Susan Leviever won this years Classic Car Draw for a 1977 Corvette L82 350 from the Rockies on September 19th at the Columbia Valley Classics Autumn Show & Shine car show in Radium. In addition, the Rockies will be raising money through pond hockey this January with the popular Columbia Valley Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Windermere (formerly known as the BC Pond Hockey Championships before the Rockies took over the tournament as a fundraiser earlier this year). This winters championships are taking place January 30th and 31st.

The team is also eager to plan next years third annual Rockies golf tournament.

Well continue to fundraise both for the team and for the bus program, concluded Mr. Anderson. Basically, what will happen now is the wood pile will fund the running of the bus. It will pay the running costs of the bus so it doesnt have to come out of the operating budget for the team and we also intend to put any surplus that we can towards saving for the next replacement bus whenever that happens.

To buy Rockies firewood this winter, call Invermere Home Hardware at 250-342-6908.