PEI

Nearing a million: Wo-He-Lo clothing sale set to hit fundraising milestone

The Wo-He-Lo used clothing sale may just hit a major fundraising milestone this week.  Over the past 85 years, the fundraiser for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's nursery and neonatal intensive care unit has raised nearly a million dollars. 

Fundraiser for QEH nursery, neonatal intensive care unit $35K shy of a million heading into this week's sale

The 25 Wo-He-Lo Club volunteers spent Tuesday organizing and hanging piles of used clothes on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's third floor. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The Wo-He-Lo used clothing sale may just hit a major fundraising milestone this week. 

Over the past 85 years, the fundraiser for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's nursery and neonatal intensive care unit has raised nearly a million dollars. 

If this week's three-day sale —  starting Wednesday — brings in at least $35,000,  Wo-He-Lo club volunteers say they'll surpass that million dollar mark. 

"That would feel really good," said Heather Keith, the club's president, and one of 25 volunteers. "Everyone loves babies and everyone of course wants to help those babies that are very fragile. And knowing we're supplying the equipment that will help them survive it it really is a good feeling."

Heather Keith, president of the Wo-He-Lo Club, says donors know they want only high-quality clothing, which they then sell at reasonable prices. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

'Our friends that donate know we want good quality'

The Wo-He-Lo Club was started up by a group of women in 1933, who initially held fundraising teas, and knitted items for babies at the Prince Edward Island Hospital — now the QEH. 

About 40 years ago, Keith says it turned into a major clothing sale that now raises more than $50,000 annually. 

Club volunteer Marie Fudge says it's knowing where all the money's going that keeps her helping out with the clothing sale year after year. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Twice a year — in the spring and fall — club volunteers gather donations of high-quality used clothing and accessories, organize them by gender and size at the hospital, and sell them to bargain hunters at reasonable prices. 

"Our friends that donate know we want good quality, so we're very lucky," said Marie Fudge, who has been part of the Wo-He-Lo club for 12 years. 

Fudge says while what they're selling helps, the real key to the fundraiser's success is what it's supporting. 

Dr. Kathy Morrison, a pediatrician at the QEH, says essentially all the equipment in the neonatal intensive care unit was purchased with fundraising dollars from the clothing sale. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

From incubators to syringes 

Over the years, the sale has allowed the QEH to regularly purchase and upgrade medical equipment key to supporting premature babies here on P.E.I., like warmers and incubators. 

"Essentially all the equipment we have in the nursery is funded by the Wo-He-Lo club," said Dr. Kathy Morrison, a pediatrician at the hospital. "So the fact they've raised almost a million dollars, or probably surpassed it by the end of this week means we can provide top quality care here on P.E.I."

Morrison says the funds raised this week will be used to purchase four syringe pumps, specially designed for getting drugs to tiny premature babies. 

In recent years, the two clothing sales — one in the spring, one in the fall — have brought in more than $50,000. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Fudge — whose own daughter was born prematurely and is now a healthy 32-year-old — says it's knowing where the money's going that keeps her gathering and organizing all the clothes year after year. 

"We've heard from parents of premature babies how grateful they were to be able to stay on the Island, or to come back from Halifax sooner, and to have their families and communities around them," said Fudge. "It's really important, and that's the biggest thing for me."

The sale takes place Wednesday through Friday, on the third floor of the QEH. 

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