COLUMBIA CITY — A group of Columbia City residents are working together to help and encourage local youth to enjoy skateboarding.

Tad Varga and Mike Thomas are raising money to purchase parts for about 20-25 skateboards to gift to children in need this Christmas.

So far, the group has raised about $500 of its $2,000 goal, and several of the parts have been donated or offered at a discounted price.

A “decent” skateboard, according to Varga, costs about $150.

“You can get the cheap ones, but they don’t function right,” Varga said. “They look like a skateboard, but they don’t work correctly.”

Varga and Thomas, who help lead the Columbia City Skate Park Advocates group, are looking to provide quality skateboards to children — encouraging a positive hobby, keeping children out of trouble, providing a means for exercise and transportation, and giving them a social outlet.

“My boys ride theirs all over town, all the time,” Varga said. “It’s great, and it would be good for kids to have that — something they wouldn’t necessarily get otherwise.”

The group plans to work with the schools to determine who the skateboards will be given to.

Those who donate $25 or more will be given a free CC Skate Park T-shirt.

The group formed in light of potential plans to add a skate park to the new park property the city will gain when the current Columbia City High School is demolished. The current skate park is geared more toward BMX bicycles, versus skateboards.

The group started fundraising and creating awareness about a year ago and looks to continue its work in the coming years in preparation for a potential new skate park.