'Dream come true': P.E.I. woman set to move home-based charity to store

A charity that gives away food, clothing, furniture and other household items, may finally be getting some much needed space.

Betty Begg-Brooks is the founder of Gifts from the Heart, and said she hopes to soon sign a lease for a property in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Charlottetown.

The goal, she said, is to set up a storefront that operates five days a week, to give away goods to low-income Islanders. 

"There will be no money exchanged. We have 47,000 square feet. So we basically have place for storage, we have a place for everything," Begg-Brooks said. 

'A dream come true'

Right now, Begg-Brooks runs the charity out of her West Royalty home, where she and her husband collect donations of every kind and hand them out to those in need.

With thousands of items stuffed away inside their home, and without the extra space, Begg-Brooks said she likely would have been forced to discontinue the charity.

Nicole Williams/CBC

"This a dream come true because I really, really need to take my home back," Begg-Brooks said.

There are other perks. Having a storefront will not only free up her house, but will allow Begg-Brooks to operate on a set schedule, allowing for some time off, currently a rare opportunity for the founder.

"I'm basically 73 years old. I'm a retired nurse and I'm getting a little tired. So basically a couple of years and my legacy can continue."

'Takes a load off'

At a care fair on Saturday, a giant giveaway event with free food, clothing and household items, Begg-Brooks announced her plan to hundreds of cheering Islanders. 

Kerry Molyneaux was one of those in the crowd. She said she was incredibly happy to hear Begg-Brooks may have finally found a place.

Nicole Williams/CBC

"Betty has been helping a lot of families and I'm one of them," Molyneaux said, tearing up. 

"There's a stigma with people who need that help and it shouldn't be that way. Everybody should be treated equal and Betty does. She helps anybody that needs help."

Tammy Jones is another client of Begg-Brooks. She said she's grateful to know the charity will continue with a storefront. 

"I'm a single parent of three and it just takes a load off for me just to know that there's something for us," Jones said. 

Gifts from the Heart hopes to move into its new space on July 1. 

CBC spoke with a representative from Bevan Enterprises, the real estate company that owns the building. The company confirms it is in talks to have the charity move in, but say a lease has yet to be signed. 

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