Edmonton boy makes skateboards each year for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

Click to play video: 'Father and son build skateboards for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous'
Father and son build skateboards for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous
WATCH ABOVE: Over the last four years, 11-year-old Ethan Mitchell and his father have built 46 skateboards for Edmonton children in need at Christmas. This year, they donated 16 boards to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous locations in Edmonton and Athabasca. Sarah Kraus has their story – Dec 13, 2017

An Edmonton boy spends his weeks leading up to Christmas, not writing his list for Santa, but making toys for those less fortunate.

Eleven-year-old Ethan Mitchell started making skateboards for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous as a “creative punishment” after a Christmas party mishap.

“We were at a Christmas party and Ethan found the silent auction table,” Chadwick Mitchell said with a laugh. “His mom and I ended up spending $150 on a cake for charity.”

Not wanting to punish their son for wanting to give to charity, Ethan’s parents told him to pick a charity to raise money for.

READ MORE: Tower of Toys gathers thousands of donations for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

Ethan had just started skateboarding, so he thought it would be fun to try and build one and donate it to Santas. The family figured they would get a few donations from members of the family and their neighbours, but it took off.

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“I was nervous,” Ethan said. “I felt like nobody would donate and then it just kind of grew. So I was really happy about that.”

The first year, they raised enough to build four skateboards for Santas. It took them about two-and-a-half hours to build just one.

“Every five seconds it was just YouTube video, YouTube video, YouTube video, because we just didn’t know anything,” Ethan said.

Now the two can build seven boards in the same amount of time, and Ethan makes half the boards on his own.

Ethan Mitchell works on one of the 16 skateboards he built this year. Courtesy: Chadwick Mitchell
Ethan Mitchell works on one of the 16 skateboards he built this year. Courtesy: Chadwick Mitchell
Ethan Mitchell poses with the 16 skateboards he and his dad built this year. Courtesy: Chadwick Mitchell

“He took to it right away,” Chadwick said of his son’s desire to give back. “For him, he’s just always wanted to help.”

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Helping the less fortunate is a holiday tradition for the Mitchells. Chadwick remembers getting Christmas dinner from the food bank when he was Ethan’s age.

“I remember that Christmas and I remember not worrying about the gifts; I remember worrying whether the lights were going to stay on.

“For me, we’ve always made giving back part of our tradition and we decided to keep going with Skateboards for Santa and it’s just grown organically over the years.”

This year, Ethan was the recipient of a grant from GoFundMe’s Kid Heroes campaign. Building skateboards can be an expensive way to give back – each board costs up to $180 – and Ethan was the winner of a $1,000 grant, which allowed the duo to make 16 boards this year – a new record for them.

“It makes me feel really good,” Ethan said. “I just wish I could see the kids’ faces when they get them.”

Ethan has never seen someone in public with one of his boards but that may change after this Christmas.

This year, 12 of the boards were donated to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous, and four of the boards will go to the Santas Anonymous program in Athabasca, Alta. The family owns a summer home there and Ethan wanted to give back because a local coffee shop donated all of their tips one night to Skateboards for Santa.

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“It’s a very small town and there’s one skate park, so I’m pretty sure we’ll see one, one time,” he said.

READ MORE: 630 CHED Santas Anonymous radio auction records record-breaking year

For Chadwick, he’s not surprised that Ethan has wanted to continue with Skateboards for Santas. He calls Ethan an “empathetic child” who worries about where homeless people are going to sleep and makes his dad buy them a coffee and a sandwich.

Ethan Mitchell delivers his 12 skateboards to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous on Dec. 9, 2017. Kirby Bourne/630 CHED
A volunteer packages one of Ethan's skateboards for a 630 CHED Santas Anonymous recipient. Kirby Bourne/630 CHED

Ethan was at Santas on Saturday, donating his 12 skateboards. Volunteers wrapped them that day and they are ready and waiting to go out to 12 kids this weekend for delivery.

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The Mitchells have stopped accepting donations for this Christmas, but will start up again next November.

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