Nova Scotia

Second-hand treasures at the Daisy lead to major fundraising for Bridgewater hospital

The secret fundraising weapon of the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary is a second-hand store that brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

An all-volunteer team runs the store filled with donations from the community

The Daisy, a second-hand store in Bridgewater, N.S., has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the local hospital. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

As a nurse, Marilyn Logan knew the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary was helpful, but didn't fully appreciate the extent to which that was true until after she retired.

"I didn't understand, anyway, how much the auxiliary contributed to the different departments in the hospital until I started working here," she said.

"Here" is the Daisy, a second-hand shop across the parking lot from the hospital in Bridgewater, N.S., where Logan has been part of the 73-person volunteer team for the last seven years.

Upon entry, the shop seems similar to other second-hand or thrift stores one might visit, where clothes and shoes share space with books, puzzles, kitchenware and an assortment of nicknacks and curiosities.

Volunteers sort through all donations to make sure nothing is damaged before it gets the OK to be prepared for sale. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

But it differs in one significant way: it's a fundraising powerhouse.

Last year, selling items that tend not to cost more than a few dollars each, the store made $320,000, all of which goes to the auxiliary.

The Daisy had modest beginnings.

In the early 1970s, the auxiliary started a "nearly new shop" in a nursing residence that each week would sell off anything left over from the annual spring fling fundraiser.

"It grew, and grew and grew," said Jean Fraser McHarg, a former president of the auxiliary who now helps run the Daisy.

Jean Fraser McHarg helps operate the Daisy. She said it started as a way to sell things left over from the annual spring fling and 'grew and grew and grew.' (CBC)

Eventually the site got popular enough it moved into a vacant school and then ultimately to its present location on the hospital property, which has subsequently been extended to accommodate the space requirements for storage, sorting and, of course, sales.

Five days a week, volunteers arrive several hours ahead of opening to prepare for customers and sort through donations, which begin being dropped off each day not long after volunteers arrive and continue being delivered throughout each day.

There's no shortage to the donations, including Christmas decorations, which come in so frequently that Logan spends part of both of her weekly shifts dealing only with Christmas items.

The Daisy, which is operated by an all-volunteer team, gives all its proceeds to the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary. (CBC)

If the Daisy's success through the years has allowed the auxiliary to help the hospital by purchasing equipment and funding renovations, it's only because the community has supported the store through donations and shopping.

"We recognize the value of our hospital and the services that it provides," said Sharon Ritcey, an auxiliary member and Daisy volunteer.

Dorthy Drysdale, a self-described "fashion freak" who stops in anytime she's in town from Lunenburg, said she values going to the store because she knows it helps the hospital and because of the joy of the chase.

"It's exciting. You never know what you're going to find. It's always a treasure."

Shoppers are ready and waiting at the Daisy almost as soon as it opens each day. Donations start arriving even before opening time. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

Those treasures have helped fund purchases such as new equipment for the hospital's physiotherapy department, an ultrasound machine for a local doctor's office, renovations and donations to the hospital foundation.

And while they keep as many of the treasures as they can for sale, volunteers at the Daisy also find a way for some to benefit other groups.

There are the regular donations to the food bank, help for the local diabetes association and any sporting equipment donated to the store goes back into the community via local programs for kids who receive things such as skates for free.

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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