A group of Okanagan Hockey Academy students traded their sticks for shovels to help out some Twin Lakes area property owners threatened by rising water levels.
It was actually Dave Libby of Kaleden who got in touch with the academy after learning about the potential disaster from his daughter-in-law Lanny Jimenez whose parents own one of the nine residences affected.
The young people spent two hours on Thursday on the waterfront of the three-acre, strata development, filling and stacking an estimated 1,500 bags of sand.
The area in question is on the northeast corner of Twin Lakes, southeast of Penticton.
“The students saved the day, there’s no question about it,” said Libby, who contacted his former employer, Okanagan Hockey Group (OHG) president Andy Oakes, as the situation began to escalate. “I wanted to see if any of the players could go out to Twin Lakes to help because we were overwhelmed.
“The nine individual houses share the water and septic systems and both were in danger of being flooded. If they were flooded they would have had to turn off the power to the whole strata and the people would have had to move out.”
Because many of those property owners are older and had already been working for five days filling and installing sand bags, Libby described the job for them to finish off the two truck loads of material as “impossible.”
His initial request to the academy was for 20 or 25 players.
“So my eyes did get pretty big because they sent 42 young people,” said Libby. “They arrived and got off the bus and after my eyes got back to normal size I gave them maybe five minutes instruction and they just took off, away they went. They just jumped in and dealt with it as a team.
“What’s really nice is that it shows that young people can really contribute in a situation like this. What most people don’t realize (about the academy) is how much emphasis is also on academics and being a good citizen.”
He was very impressed with the conditioning of the players who participated, both girls and boys could be seen carrying two of the 40 to 50-pound bags of sand at a time.
“This was just a huge relief for the residents,” said Libby.
OHG vice president Dixon Ward said the assistance by his players is just an extension of the academy philosophy for their young people.
“Developmentally for these kids learning how to give back to the community and be part of it is a very important message and good opportunity for us to get involved and help out the folks who needed it and give our kids a lesson,” said Ward, adding when they asked for volunteers every hand went up. “They had fun and they’ve grown up in a team environment so in this particular instance it takes team effort and it takes co-ordination and it takes co-operation.
“It’s not about them it’s about somebody else so that’s a very important message and they were very happy to help and alleviate a lot of stress for those folks.”