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Langford hockey coach inspires donations to Christmas charity that helped him as a child

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Jim Knutsen doesn’t need to watch old TV commercials online to remember the Christmas when all the kids wanted Star Wars toys.

“But when you’re the poor kid,” Jim says, “you know you’re not getting it.”

While not getting anything for Christmas was hard, Jim says the hardest part was having to keep it a secret when he returned to school.

“Deep down you feel like you’re not as good [as the other kids],” Jim says. “You feel like you might have done something wrong.”

Which is why Jim was so surprised that one Christmas he not only unwrapped a big toy, but the biggest Star Wars toy of them all.

“Wow! This is the coolest toy ever!” Jim beams, remembering the moment. “The Millennium Falcon!”

While Jim didn’t know then that it was a gift from the Santas Anonymous charity, he‘ll never forget how meaningful it felt returning to school with not only nothing to hide, but something to share.

“I felt like I was normal,” Jim says. “It was the greatest day of my life.”

Decades later, that day has inspired Jim to give back.

He volunteers as head coach of his kids' hockey team, over the past two years inspiring their Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association to raise more than $37,000 for the charity that once helped him.

“We all have to work together,” Jim says. “So we can achieve something greater than the sum of us.”

Jim’s work on and off the ice has earned him top coaching and sportsmanship awards, along with kudos from his players and their parents.

“They want to play for Coach Jim because he inspires them,” says mom Bonnie Osborne.

“He teaches us to be really good to other people and stuff,” says player Sawyer Large.

“Whether we win or lose a game,” player Michael Osborne says. “He always makes us feel like we’ve won in our hearts.”

This year, Jim is challenging all the minor hockey associations he competes against to come together and raise even more for money for the charity.

And like every years, he’ll personally donate whatever the modern-day equivalent of the Millennium Falcon is.

“I always write on the back (of the gift): ‘You are loved,’” Jim says, fighting back tears. “Because you are.”

Because not only should a child never forget they’re normal, they should always remember they’re special.

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