MEET­ING THE NEED

Es­ti­mated 700 peo­ple pass through Christ­mas Care Fair in Char­lot­te­town

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD Mitchell.mac­don­[email protected]­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Mitch_PEI

Es­ti­mated 700 peo­ple pass through Christ­mas Care Fair in Char­lot­te­town

Betty Begg knows the need is al­ways there.

And a re­cent Christ­mas Care Fair at the P.E.I. Farm Cen­tre was a prime ex­am­ple. When the doors opened for the fair, hosted by Begg’s char­ity known as Gifts from the Heart, an es­ti­mated 400 Is­lan­ders poured in.

By the end of the day, more than 700 in­di­vid­u­als had stocked up on ev­ery­thing from food and clothes to Kleenex, toi­let pa­per, toys and even a mat­tress.

“It was un­real, we had a trac­tor trailer full and we had six ve­hi­cles full. Then the food came later,” said Begg, not­ing that the fair is open for in­di­vid­u­als to take what they need at no cost.

Un­for­tu­nately, Begg also has a need.

The re­tired nurse helps many low-in­come Is­lan­ders and oth­ers in need by op­er­at­ing Gifts from the Heart 365 days a year. She holds her care fairs and give­away events at tem­po­rary lo­ca­tions like the farm cen­tre.

How­ever, in be­tween those fairs, all of the do­nated items go through Beggs’ own home where they are checked for qual­ity and sorted.

“I re­ally need a ware­house,” said Begg, who has been ap­proached by sev­eral P.E.I. busi­ness­men who’ve of­fered to help pay for the en­deavor.

The only prob­lem has been finding one.

“You would think (it would be easy). But the ware­house that I need, I want to be able to open a spot about this size and make it like a thrift store,” said Begg, adding that those in need would be able to go to the site on any day to take what they need. “Right now, ev­ery­thing falls on me, I don’t have a spare minute.”

Sev­eral Is­lan­ders who de­scribed them­selves as low­in­come also spoke to The Guardian about Beggs’ work and her need for ad­di­tional space.

The Care Fair was a com­mu­nity ef­fort. Pres­by­te­rian church mem­bers had a booth filled with pa­per towel, toi­let pa­per and Kleenex.

Santa Claus also made a spe­cial visit while vol­un­teers from Santa’s An­gels, which joined forces with Gifts from the Heart ear­lier this year, were help­ing at the event.

“It was un­real, we had a trac­tor trailer full and we had six ve­hi­cles full. Then the food came later.”

Betty Begg

MITCH MAC­DON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Betty Begg and Santa sur­prise sib­lings, from left, Nathaniel, Elizabeth and Lori Chiasson, with some new mitts and toys dur­ing the re­cent Christ­mas Care Fair held at the P.E.I. Farm Cen­tre. The fair pro­vided fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als with just about any­thing they would need from food and clothes to books and toi­let pa­per.

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