New Brunswick

From gold rings to 'this thingy,' Moncton senior earns $65K in online auction

Barbara Elias has been raising funds for charity through an online auction she joined three years ago.

Since she started the auction 3 years ago, Barbara Elias has donated all funds to the Humanity Project

Barbara Elias, 87, has been running an online auction she joined three years ago. And she has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. (Submitted by Barbara Elias)

Meet Barbara Elias.

She likes to make quilts out of old T-shirts, volunteer and garden. 

She also collects and auctions just about anything to pay heating bills and buy clothes for people in need.

"It's quite a good thing," said the 87-year-old. "We've raised a lot of money for charity and we help people too." 

Three years ago, Elias took over Moncton Auctions for Charity. It's an online auction site where people donate items they no longer want.

She was asked to take it over from someone she knew. 

I said when I reach a certain age I would stop. And that number came and went.​​​​​​- Barbara Elias

"Like an idiot, I said 'Yes.'"  

The site has grown ever since. And she's already capped $65,000 in donations for the Humanity Project, a non-profit group that provides meals for people struggling to get by.

"It's just a fun thing that I do," Elias said from her home in Moncton.

She has sold everything, including purses, coins, jewelry, and 40-year-old Avon bottles. Last year, she sold a six-foot-long toy car.

"Everything is very valuable to us," she said. 

Donations from old boyfriends 

One woman donated a gold ring that was sold for several hundred dollars.

"She said, 'I want to get rid of it because it's from an old boyfriend.'"

Another woman donated $500 worth of laser treatments for people to bid on.

Elias donating funds to the Humanity Project, a non-profit group in Moncton, from her online auction. (Submitted by Barbara Elias)

Sometimes Elias has no idea what she's selling. That's when she refers to the item as "this thingy."  

"And then people will say, 'Oh, Barbara, that's a blah, blah, blah.'"

In the summer, she keeps her merchandise in a baby barn. But come winter, it's scattered all over her house — mostly in the kitchen and on the stairs, in the hallway, and some in the basement, too.

Bidders can be 'sore losers'

The auction closes every night at 7 p.m. Sometimes, items are sold within a few minutes.

"Sometimes I have people who will wait until two minutes to seven to put their bid in," she said.

"And then somebody else who's wanted it will be right on the button, seven o'clock."

Barbara Elias runs online auctions to raise money for charity. 9:47

This can be a problem. Because Elias has to decide who wins the item, based on the time on her phone.

"Occasionally, the loser is a sore loser." 

But she said her members are very supportive and will back her up in the comments section of the site or send her personal messages showing their support.

Retiring at 90

She said the auction is also a way to connect people living in the Moncton area — particularly those "living in great difficulty."

"I said when I reach a certain age I would stop. And that number came and went," she said.

"I said maybe when I'm 90 I will stop. So we'll see. Maybe not."

Elias accepts anything clean or in good condition. She doesn't take glasses, mugs or clothes out of season because they don't sell.

"I love doing it and of course, it's nice to be able to pass the money over."

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

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