Theresa Gallant sits with a bouquet of roses she received from the Kidney Foundation of Canada on P.E.I. Gallant has been a volunteer with the foundation for 35 years and she was recently honoured for her work. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
Summerside – It used to be that the best place to go when canvassing door-to-door for charity in Summerside was the bootleggers’.
That’s where the real money was – and friendly people too, said Theresa Gallant recently as she sat with guests on her living room couch.
“Ah well, as long as they gave some money, it was good for them to do. Maybe they just give it to me to get clear of me – but they were good,” recalled the Summerside mother of 10.
Gallant, 80, got a visit on Monday from Matthew McFarlane and Anne Christopher from the local chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
They brought roses.
This year will mark the 35th year Gallant will hit the pavement for the foundation, collecting money for its door-to-door campaign.
She’s one of the longest-serving volunteers the organization has on P.E.I., said Christopher, chairwoman of the newly formed Summerside chapter of the national charity.
Gallant has been with the organization ever since it got started on P.E.I., she added, so the organization wanted to do something to recognize all her hard work.
“It’s important to recognize anyone who has spent so much time and dedication doing volunteer work. I think recognizing people for their volunteerism is something that should be done more often, in any volunteer association,” said Christopher.
MacFarlane also pointed out that May is the month when volunteers from the foundation will be doing their canvassing.
The door-to-door campaign is the Kidney Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser and brings in thousands of dollars across P.E.I. every year.
“It wouldn’t be possible without people like Theresa getting out and making the effort of going door-to-door. Because it is harder and harder to find people like Theresa,” said MacFarlane.
“It’s people like her who are the lifeblood of any charitable organization and we’re all very pleased and honoured to have such dedicated volunteers with the kidney foundation,” he added.
Gallant, who has canvased for other organizations even longer than she has for the kidney foundation, said she appreciates the flowers and the recognition but it’s not why she’s been doing it all these years.
“It’s really nice, because when I went out collecting I’d never thinking of getting any recognition at all,” she said.
She said she kept at it because it was her way to get out of the house and see the neighbours amidst trying to raise her children.
“I love talking. I think that’s it. I love the people,” she said.
“I collected for everything that was on the go. When you get into going door to door for one thing, they get to know you – so you keep going.”
Sometimes the kids would even tag along – willingly or not.
Gallant’s daughter Bonita said she was mostly spared having to accompany her mother, but that just meant she had other duties.
“I remember I had to babysit a lot,” she laughed.
“I don’t know if they ever growled behind my back, but they never did in front of me. But they’d be going anyway – whether they growled or not,” said Gallant.
Canvassing is still great fun, she said, she gets her exercise, she gets to see her neighbours and does something nice for the community.
You’d be surprised how receptive people are when they see her coming after all these years. She’s never had a bad experience, she said.
“I never got insulted or anything ... I never got chased.”
“They were scared of her,” laughed Bonita.
“Well – everybody knew me,” added Gallant with a smile.