Donations thrill women moving from Blooming House shelter to own homes

Islanders responded big time when a call for help went out from a women's shelter looking for donations to help three residents moving out into new homes.

Shelter staff overwhelmed by kindness of Island donors

Shelter co-ordinators Tavie Ingersoll and Krystal Rice sort through some of the kitchenware that was donated to Blooming House. (Submitted by Tammy Denning)

Islanders responded big time when a call for help went out from a women's shelter looking for donations to help three residents moving out into new homes. 

Representatives of Blooming House, an emergency shelter for women in Charlottetown, say they were overwhelmed with the variety and number of donations.

"Women come into Blooming House with absolutely nothing, perhaps the clothing on their backs. And when they leave, they often also leave with nothing," Tammy Denning, the executive director of the shelter, told CBC's Angela Walker.

"They often will arrive at their new apartment or their new home with no furniture, no household items."

Blooming House can offer only short-term shelter for women leaving bad situations. When three clients recently moved out into their individual longer-term accommodations, Denning said, each had only one or two items of furniture and very few of the things that help make an apartment a home.

Blooming House resource co-ordinator Krystal Rice and executive director Tammy Denning with some of the many donated household items. (Submitted by Tammy Denning)

Outfitting a place with towels, bedding, dishes, pots and pans, a microwave and everything else a household needs can quickly get expensive.

She said her friend Kirstin Lund, who has a network of caring friends and acquaintances that Denning has dubbed "The Island Angels," put out a call after she heard what was needed for the three recent clients. 

"People have responded in such a generous and kind and loving manner," Denning said — so much so that staff at the shelter "have been very overwhelmed in a very good way."

'Above and beyond' basic needs

Many of the donations arrived on Saturday.

"We have kitchen tables and kitchen chairs, we have a Keurig even, lots of lovely bedding and towels and washcloths and dishes and bakeware — which of course was something that was a nice surprise because that was above and beyond just those basic needs that we had asked for."

Blooming House has no space to store large items, so Denning and her colleagues are now trying to co-ordinate vehicles that can deliver the furniture people are donating.

There will be a storage room at the shelter for smaller items, so that future clients needing similar help can have a head start.

As for the three women who were the focus of the original call for donations? 

"They feel like it's Christmas!" said Denning. "They have no words. They are just so overwhelmed with gratitude, just as we are at Blooming House. They're in tears." 

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With files from Angela Walker