PEI

'Dream come true': P.E.I. woman set to move home-based charity to store

A charity that gives away free food, clothing, furniture and other household items may finally be getting some much needed space.

Founder of Gifts from the Heart hopes to soon sign lease for property in Parkdale

From left: Charlottetown Mayor Phillip Brown, Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald, Gifts from the Heart founder Betty Begg-Brooks, Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker and Lisa Cooper, chief of the Native Council of P.E.I., celebrate the announcement that Begg-Brooks is seeking to open a store for her home-based charity. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

A charity that gives away food, clothing, furniture and other household items, may finally be getting some much needed space.

Betty Begg-Brooks is the founder of Gifts from the Heart, and said she hopes to soon sign a lease for a property in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Charlottetown.

The goal, she said, is to set up a storefront that operates five days a week, to give away goods to low-income Islanders. 

"There will be no money exchanged. We have 47,000 square feet. So we basically have place for storage, we have a place for everything," Begg-Brooks said. 

'A dream come true'

Right now, Begg-Brooks runs the charity out of her West Royalty home, where she and her husband collect donations of every kind and hand them out to those in need.

With thousands of items stuffed away inside their home, and without the extra space, Begg-Brooks said she likely would have been forced to discontinue the charity.

Betty Begg-Brooks, left, and volunteers prepare to give away thousands of donated items away at a care fair. Begg-Brooks says she often has double this amount of goods stored at her own home. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"This a dream come true because I really, really need to take my home back," Begg-Brooks said.

There are other perks. Having a storefront will not only free up her house, but will allow Begg-Brooks to operate on a set schedule, allowing for some time off, currently a rare opportunity for the founder.

"I'm basically 73 years old. I'm a retired nurse and I'm getting a little tired. So basically a couple of years and my legacy can continue."

'Takes a load off'

At a care fair on Saturday, a giant giveaway event with free food, clothing and household items, Begg-Brooks announced her plan to hundreds of cheering Islanders. 

Kerry Molyneaux was one of those in the crowd. She said she was incredibly happy to hear Begg-Brooks may have finally found a place.

'You get emotional,' says Kerry Molyneaux of the help she's received from Begg-Brooks. 'And it's OK to get emotional because you know that people care.' (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"Betty has been helping a lot of families and I'm one of them," Molyneaux said, tearing up. 

"There's a stigma with people who need that help and it shouldn't be that way. Everybody should be treated equal and Betty does. She helps anybody that needs help."

Tammy Jones is another client of Begg-Brooks. She said she's grateful to know the charity will continue with a storefront. 

"I'm a single parent of three and it just takes a load off for me just to know that there's something for us," Jones said. 

Gifts from the Heart hopes to move into its new space on July 1. 

CBC spoke with a representative from Bevan Enterprises, the real estate company that owns the building. The company confirms it is in talks to have the charity move in, but say a lease has yet to be signed. 

More P.E.I. news

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.