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Bray’s Independent Grocer in Alberton, P.E.I. donates cake for senior spending birthday in community care

Marie O'Brien celebrated her 94th birthday with a cake made and delivered by Bray's Independent Grocer at no charge.
Marie O'Brien celebrated her 94th birthday with a cake made and delivered by Bray's Independent Grocer at no charge. - Contributed

An unexpected gift from a West Prince business has helped make a local senior’s birthday a bit more special.

On March 31, Marie O’Brien, a resident at Rev W.J. Philipp’s community care home, turned 94. Her daughter, Colleen, lives in the Yukon and asked her aunt, Pam Corcoran, about getting a cake.

Corcoran, who lives near O’Leary, was happy to oblige and get a cake for her sister-in-law. She called up Bray’s Independent Grocer in Alberton, and after inquiring, she was surprised to hear that the store would make and deliver the birthday cake for free.

“I was in tears,” said Corcoran. “It just … it floored me.”

Most of O’Brien’s children and grandchildren live outside of Prince Edward Island. In addition, her husband of over 70 years had died in November, just days after their anniversary.

With limited family to join her on her special day, the cake helped make her 94th a little less lonely and a little more special. The cake, large enough to feed 80 people, wasn’t just for O’Brien but for everyone at the community care home to share and take part in the day.

“(O’Brien) said it was the biggest cake she’d ever seen in her life,” said Corcoran. “She was pretty excited.”

We want to wish a very Happy Birthday to 2 of our beautiful ladies!!!! Marie O'Brian and Marie Collicutt. Beautiful ladies inside and out

Posted by Rev W.J. Phillips Residence on Wednesday, March 31, 2021

According to Corcoran, O’Brien didn’t know the cake was coming and was surprised when it showed up. She was also surprised by an unexpected video call from her various family members provinces away, who couldn’t be there in person.

“Her eyes were just going everywhere because there were some of her sisters, all of her children and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said Corcoran. “It was great to see.”

The birthday cake isn’t the first time Pat and Bill Bray, owners of Bray’s Independant, have used their store to give to the community.

They frequently donate to benefits, charities and food drives, so it was only natural that they donate a cake for a senior spending her birthday in community care.

“We’d like to make a 94-year-old happy right now,” said Pat Bray. “I’m a retired nurse of 30 years, so the elderly were always important in my life. … We do have a larger base of elderly up here, as well in the Alberton area, so it’s nice to give back.”

Bray said she and Bill hope that the cake helped bring some cheer to the residents at the community care home, especially during the tough times that naturally come with a pandemic.

“I’m hoping they’re all happy and they get together,” she said, “and enjoy the time spent with a lovely lady that’s 94.”

Kristin Gardiner is the Journal Pioneer's rural reporter.


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