A group of a dozen women that meets at a Summerside Tim Hortons every morning has managed to raise about $20,000 for charity over the past decade — thanks to a simple ritual.
The women sip coffee, nibble on a muffin or bagel, and chat.
In the centre of the table sits a pile of loonies, quarters and five-dollar-bills. Every day, the women add whatever they can give.
'If they don't come every day, they throw in a five-dollar-bill or a ten-dollar-bill, so it adds up quickly.'— Doris DeRoches, group treasurer
"One day we were talking about how much has been collected, and I was so impressed," said Linda Lowther, who has been attending the group for about four years along with her mother.
"I'm so proud of these ladies, I love them all. I didn't realize the magnitude of it. I knew what was going on because every time I would come with my mom, we'd chuck money on the table, but you don't realize how much that adds up after so many years."
'They're all so giving'
The simple ritual started when one group member pitched the idea of raising money for Grandmothers Helping Grandmothers in Africa.
Since then, the group has donated a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to a different charity every year, including the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul.
The group also quietly gives to those in the community who need help, like a local family that's struggling financially.
The group also sends a few hundred dollars to various efforts overseas each year through local priests who visit Africa and Mexico helping impoverished children by supplying food and building schools.
"It makes me feel good to know that we're helping others," said member Melvina MacLellan. "I can't say enough about this group, they're great, and they're all so giving … I love them all."
Doris DeRoches, who has been named the group's treasurer, keeps the funds in a coffee can.
"If they don't come every day, they throw in a five-dollar-bill or a ten-dollar-bill, so it adds up quickly," she said.
"When I count the money, I'm always amazed at how much we have ... It's been very encouraging."
Pat Poirier joined the group a few years ago after being impressed by the quiet fundraising efforts, and the fact that the group has never asked for any recognition.
She even came up with a name for the group.
"It just overwhelmed me that these people should be so generous and helped so many people," she said.
"It just shows you that a few people coming together can do a lot and make a big difference in other people's lives. I call them the Tim Horton's Angels, because they really are angels."
More than just donations
Many of the women say they keep coming back every day not just for the charity, but for the friendship — something Lowther said helps keep the group going strong.
"They're great friends, they do a lot of things together, " she said.
"They go to church together on Friday mornings too … They support each other when something goes wrong, and they're a great bunch of ladies."
Lousie Doiron agrees.
"Well I just have to come because they're important to me. I know that I can count on them. They're very special people."