The proof is in the pudding: Island woman raises money for charity by baking at Christmas

'Tis the season for Christmas baking — but for Pat Robinson of Sherwood, P.E.I., it's on a whole other level.

'It sort of became my thing at Christmas': Most years, Pat Robinson bakes up to 350 batches

For 20 years running, Pat Robinson has baked hundreds of batches of plum pudding to raise money for local charities over the holidays. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

'Tis the season for Christmas baking — but for Pat Robinson of Sherwood, P.E.I., it's on a whole other level.

For 20 years running, Robinson has baked hundreds of plum puddings to raise money for local non-profits and people in need for the holidays.

"It sort of became my thing at Christmas," said Robinson.

"I see a need — and it's a local need, it's an Island need. And it's just a way for me to do something and to help where and when I can."

Most years, she bakes between 325 and 350 batches of plum puddings.

Baking begins in October

The work begins in October, when she does all of her baking. In November, she advertises and takes orders, and then in December, she delivers the orders to those who want them. And she does it all by herself.

Most years, Robinson bakes about 325 to 350 batches of plum pudding. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

​"The big thing is, I don't like being bored, I don't like sitting around, I need to keep moving, I love keeping active and busy," she said. 

"And the people — I mean, I've met some of the most fabulous people doing this campaign. And most of them are seniors, and we have fantastic conversations. I'm phoning saying, 'Your pudding's ready,' — we end up talking for an hour." 

Robinson follows an old World War I recipe, she explained — one that she picked up when she used to live in Newfoundland in the late '70s and early '80s.

"Not sure where I found it ... I think the older people called it an old war cake recipe. Very simple."

Keeping it local

It all started about 20 years ago when she helped her daughter with a bake sale table at a university function to raise money for a rape crisis centre.

Robinson said it may have started with that one small table, but it's since grown into something much larger.

It had to be local. And I've kept it local ever since.- Pat Robinson

In the past, she says she's raised funds for small local non-profits like the Cooper Institute and PEI People First.

"My philosophy became: It had to be local. And I've kept it local ever since," said Robinson.

Over the last several years she's focused on raising funds for the PEI Humane Society and the Community of Legal Information Association of P.E.I. (CLIA).

"I do it for the Humane Society because after we lost our kitten, I couldn't get another kitten. I can't walk into the Humane Society, it just tears me apart, so this is something I can do for them," she said.

As for CLIA, she explained, "In my view, they do for people what the Humane Society does for animals."

Thousands raised

Normally she raises about $6,000 each year. Some of that goes toward her expense costs, and the rest, she splits between the two organizations.

Every year, Pat Robinson starts baking in October, takes orders in November, and delivers in December. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

She's usually able to donate about $2,500 to each organization, Robinson said.

Whenever there's money left over, she likes to identify people who might need some assistance. In the past, she's purchased laptops for seniors and she's donated money to people who were short at Christmas time.

"Usually it goes to individuals who have some sort of specific need."

Although doing this each year makes for a busy and overwhelming time, she said she really enjoys doing it.

"People are wonderful. I love them. And I think that for me is what I get out of it, just talking to these people, getting to know these people, having a good belly laugh with them, and watching them smile and walk away," she said.

"I just like it. It suits me. So I'll keep going until I can't do it anymore."


Katerina Georgieva is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Windsor. She has also worked for CBC in Toronto, Charlottetown, and Winnipeg.