Regina group asks donors to part with their art to help AIDS charities in Africa

An annual art sale to benefit AIDS charities in Africa is rapidly approaching, though organizers say it’s getting so well-known in Regina they’re getting donations all year round.

Grandmother 4 Grandmothers 5th annual art sale raises money for Stephen Lewis Foundation

Frames for donated art for the sale are cleaned, and fixed if need be, by Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers volunteers. (submitted by G4G Regina)

An annual art sale to benefit AIDS charities in Africa is rapidly approaching, though organizers say it's getting so well-known in Regina they're getting donations all year round.

Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers fundraise for the Stephen Lewis Foundation to help support grandmothers in Africa caring for children orphaned by AIDS.

G4G Regina member Susan Whittick told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend the idea for the first Art in the Attic sale five years ago came from an event she attended in Invermere, B.C.

"I thought it was such a great idea because I, for one, had a whole closet full of art that I inherited or just changed my mind about," she said.

She said the response has been amazing.

"We'd planned on a one-off event, but it was so successful that the members decided we had to go another year. So here we are at our fifth year and we're still getting donations and in actual fact, we get donations year round now, not just before the sale."

4 drop-off locations

The group has had four drop off locations active since June in preparation for the sale Sept. 16. They accept two-dimensional art only, as they haven't the space to store pottery or sculptures.

"It's like Christmas here when we get a new shipment of art because we never know what we're going to receive and everything is interesting in its own way," she said.

Volunteers sort and clean the art, and do any restoration work needed, such as fixing up frames if they're dented or damaged. Then they work on determining who the artist is and whether it's an original piece, and try and get some documentation to put on the back. After that it's priced.

"The one thing to know about our pricing is that everything at the sale is a bargain," said Whittick.

She said the volunteers enjoy the tasks, and the money makes a huge difference in people's lives overseas.

Work by Saskatchewan artist Cliff Dubois is among those for sale to raise money for African charities. Work by several other Saskatchewan artists will also be featured. (submitted by G4G Regina)

G4G Regina member Sheila Fahlman said the funds raised for the Stephen Lewis Foundation are channelled to local grassroots organizations in Africa that provide services like homecare and grief counselling. 

"The experts are on the ground in Africa," she said.

"We are not the experts and all those people at the Stephen Lewis Foundation who know a great deal, they don't consider themselves experts either."

Fahlman has visited Rwanda and seen some of the programs in action. She said it has reminded her to be grateful for the things many Canadians take for granted, such as government pensions and universal health care.

"I think of these sisters across the world who just don't have the same things to rely on that we do," she said.

Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers is still gathering donations now and the sale will be held Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre in Regina.

with files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend