Edmonton grandmas learn to sell crafts online, raise funds to help women in Africa

Grandmothers of Alberta for a New Generation (GANG) is putting on its annual craft sale, but due to the pandemic, this year’s event is a lot different from other years.

Instead of setting up tables and running a one-day sale, this year it’s all being done through an online store.

Janice Pelletier of GANG Edmonton helped get the online craft sale up and running. The group was given grant money to get some coaching on how to set it all up.

“What are analytics? How do you upload a photo? How do you distribute the product? It’s been very overwhelming,” Pelletier said.

“We thought, well, we have just got to be brave. We’ve got to take a big gulp. None of us know anything about technology.”

The online store launched in September, and so far, it’s raised $2,000.

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There are about 115 items for sale, such as toques and quilts, and it’s an ongoing process. Items are continuously being added, and there is no end date for the sale at this time.

Read more: Sherwood Park grannies helping African grandmothers raising orphaned children: ‘We feel a connection with them’

Sales are limited to the Edmonton area because GANG doesn’t have the capacity to mail the items. Besides, part of the mission is to keep costs low so proceeds of the sale can go to charity.

“Two of us are acting as pickup locations,” Pelletier said.

“It’s absolutely critical to us being able to provide any kind of funds to support the grandmas in Africa.”

GANG hosts a number of fundraisers throughout the year, the craft sale being one of the bigger projects.

Read more: ‘I need more beer!’: Grandmother’s sign earns her a huge Coors delivery

Last year, GANG’s craft sale raised more than $14,000. All the money goes to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which helps women in Africa look after grandchildren who have lost their parents in the AIDS epidemic.

“We are part of 240 groups of grandmothers across Canada,” said Judy Dube, a GANG member.

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“We share stories in a variety of ways, of how these grandmothers [in Africa] in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and many of them in their 70s and 80s, have now become parents again, raising sometimes 10, 11 children in their homes,” Dube said.

“As a group since 2006, we have raised over $1 million,” Dube said. “Ninety per cent of [the money] goes to the Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“We feel a connection with these women who we never meet, who have this bond about caring and that special place that grandchildren have in our lives.”

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