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Estimated 700 people pass through Christmas Care Fair in Charlottetown

Betty Begg and Santa surprise siblings, from left, Nathaniel, Elizabeth and Lori Chiasson, with some new mitts and toys during the recent Christmas Care Fair held at the P.E.I. Farm Centre. The fair provided families and individuals with just about anything they would need from food and clothes to books and toilet paper.
Betty Begg and Santa surprise siblings, from left, Nathaniel, Elizabeth and Lori Chiasson, with some new mitts and toys during the recent Christmas Care Fair held at the P.E.I. Farm Centre. The fair provided families and individuals with just about anything they would need from food and clothes to books and toilet paper. - Mitch MacDonald

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Betty Begg knows the need is always there.

And a recent Christmas Care Fair at the P.E.I. Farm Centre was a prime example. When the doors opened for the fair, hosted by Begg’s charity known as Gifts from the Heart, an estimated 400 Islanders poured in.
By the end of the day, more than 700 individuals had stocked up on everything from food and clothes to Kleenex, toilet paper, toys and even a mattress.

“It was unreal, we had a tractor trailer full and we had six vehicles full. Then the food came later,” said Begg, noting that the fair is open for individuals to take what they need at no cost.

Presbyterian Church members kept a stockpile of Kleenex, toilet paper and paper towel to hand out during Saturday’s Christmas Care Fair hosted by Gifts from the Heart. -Mitch MacDonald
Presbyterian Church members kept a stockpile of Kleenex, toilet paper and paper towel to hand out during Saturday’s Christmas Care Fair hosted by Gifts from the Heart. -Mitch MacDonald

Unfortunately, Begg also has a need.

The retired nurse helps many low-income Islanders and others in need by operating Gifts from the Heart 365 days a year. She holds her care fairs and giveaway events at temporary locations like the farm centre.

However, in between those fairs, all of the donated items go through Beggs’ own home where they are checked for quality and sorted.

“I really need a warehouse,” said Begg, who has been approached by several P.E.I. businessmen who’ve offered to help pay for the endeavor.

The only problem has been finding one.

“You would think (it would be easy). But the warehouse that I need, I want to be able to open a spot about this size and make it like a thrift store,” said Begg, adding that those in need would be able to go to the site on any day to take what they need. “Right now, everything falls on me, I don’t have a spare minute.”

Several Islanders who described themselves as low-income also spoke to The Guardian about Beggs’ work and her need for additional space.

The Care Fair was also a community effort. Presbyterian church members had a booth filled with paper towel, toilet paper and Kleenex.

Santa Claus also made a special visit while volunteers from Santa’s Angels, which joined forces with Gifts from the Heart earlier this year, were also helping at the event.

mitchell.macdonald@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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