Why 2 P.E.I. charities are coming together

Two charities which help low income people in P.E.I. are coming together in hopes of helping more people.

'It's just grown in leaps and bounds'

Betty Begg-Brooks does a pick up of donations from a local grocery store. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Two charities which help some of the neediest of people on the Island are coming together — and looking forward to some big changes in the future.

Gifts from the Heart and Santa's Angels will keep their names but have decided to work together in hopes of helping more people. 

"We'll try and help as many people as we can," said Betty Begg-Brooks, founder of Gifts from the Heart. 

Betty Begg-Brooks picks up 190 pounds of swiss chard donated by the Farm Centre. 'It's feeding people -- getting produce to families,' she says. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"When I need help they're going to be there and vice versa, when they need help, I'll be there," 

Begg-Brooks, a retired nurse, has mostly been working from her home and using temporary spots for events such as care fairs and clothing giveaways. She also has a food pantry in her home. 

'You just want to help because you hope you're not in the same situation,' says Kenny Zakem of Santa's Angels. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"I run it from my home and it's just getting to be too much," said Begg-Brooks. "It just has grown in leaps and bounds." Donated supplies fill four rooms of her house.

She says it will be nice to have help from Santa's Angels. ​

'We're trying to get some more people'

The idea is to have more volunteers in total to help both groups and to get a deeper knowledge of those who need help. 

"The clients she gets are basically the same clients we want to get to, and we're at a point where we're trying to get some more people," said Kenny Zakem, president of Santa's Angels. 

Santa's Angels volunteers make deliveries to hundreds of families on Christmas day. (CBC News)

Santa's Angels fundraises year round but focuses mainly on doing surprise visits Christmas morning to families in need. 

The group began doing deliveries in 2004. 

Zakem said Gifts from the Heart has year-round knowledge of what families need and it will help Santa's Angels put together gift bags that can really focus on the needs of each family.  

He said this will allow his charity to help "the people who we know are in real need." 

New warehouse coming

The two groups have also received a donation from some Island businessmen who wish to remain anonymous, which will be used to secure a new warehouse. 

The idea is to have a central location that would operate similar to a thrift store — but for free.

"There will be like a parking lot with a big bay door and stuff, trucks can go in and out pick up, deliver and stuff, and people will know where we are," said Zakem.

'I cried when they told me'

"They have basically gone out and purchased a warehouse, it's basically three businessmen, they want to give back to the community," said Beggs-Brooks. 

"I cried when they told me." 

The exact location is still being worked out, but the groups say it will be a central spot in Charlottetown with lots of space. 

They expect to be able to announce the address by the end of August. 

Both groups say they hope the changes will allow them to continue helping people for years to come.

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About the Author

Laura Meader

Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.