© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARY MACKAY
Wo-He-Lo president Yvette Murphy, life member Louise Bell and member Norah Henry show some of the high quality, gently used items that will be up for grabs at the Fall Wo-He-Lo Quality Used Clothing Sale at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown Oct. 24-25.
A super sale
Some things are sure signs that fall is here.
The forested landscape turns into brilliant swatches of vibrant colour.
The great outdoors becomes a seasonal mix of warm days and nippy nights.
And then there’s the atmosphere at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Charlottetown, which becomes super charged with the approaching annual Fall Wo-He-Lo Quality Used Clothing.
“I am always amazed at how many things we get. . . ,” Wo-He-Lo life member Louise Bell says of the sale, which takes place at the hospital this year on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 24 and 25.
Wo-He-Lo Club, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, raises funds to purchase needed medical equipment for the QEH nursery and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
It started out in 1933 when the new P.E.I. Hospital opened in Charlottetown.
Mothers had to provide their own layettes at that time, so the inaugural 11 club members banded together to buy material and made thousands of diapers, layettes and more for the babies.
These sewing sessions ended in 1959 when the hospital began to supply infant clothing.
This is when Wo-He-Lo turned its full attention toward supplying equipment for the hospital nursery.
The used clothing sale began in 1977 in the basement of Ella MacLeod, who was director of nursing for the P.E.I. Hospital at the time.
It started out as a way for young nurses, who did not have a lot of extra funds, to have access to quality clothing.
The sale, which is now held at the QEH, generates more than $40,000 annually for the nursery and NICU.
The total giving tally for Wo-He-Lo, which also has other fundraising initiatives, has topped $630,000.
Twice a year — spring and fall — this group of just 23 members manages to collect, sort and present an astounding array of quality used clothing in a massive two-day sale that has reached legendary proportions.
“Really we get a lot of stuff that’s never worn, or worn maybe once for a special occasion or a wedding and never put on again,” Bell says.
“I find that most of the people who donate, they know they’re going to twice a year. They pretty well (have it set to donate spring/summer or fall/winter clothing).”
The preparation for the sale begins long before the actual two-day event.
“By that time we have all the clothes organized. We know exactly what we’re going to keep for the sale, which means that we’ve gone through them all individually — each piece — and have eliminated a lot of clothes that are off-season and kept ones that are going to be there for the sale,” says Wo-He-Lo president Yvette Murphy.
The sale has expanded from a single room at the QEH to its present location on the third floor in Classrooms A and B.
“(We start to set up) two days before. That’s why we have to be so organized in our homes so that what comes out of our houses is put in bags in sizes and categories, so when we landed (at the QEH) we know what to do with it,” Murphy says.
“It opens at 8 (a.m.) and they’re lined up at 7:30.”
The unsold items do not go to waste. Friday afternoon when the sale is done, Wo-He-Lo invites representatives from three or four local community groups, such as the Adventure Group, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada, for a no-cost shopping spree.
“They come in and they take what they need for free,” Murphy says.
The remaining items are picked up by the Garment District in Charlottetown, which donates a percentage of its sales to the Alzheimer Society of P.E.I.
“You never think it’s going to come together and then it’s all lined up on opening day,” Bell says.
“And everything is a bargain.”
JUST THE FACTS
If you are going
- The Fall Wo-He-Lo Quality Used Clothing Sale takes place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown Oct. 24-25 on the third floor in Classroom A and B.
- This sale offers high quality, gentled used fall and winter clothing for women, men, children and babies, as well as hats, purses, jewelry and books. The sale begins on Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and continues Friday, from 8 am to 3 p.m.