Former NDP MP Peter Stoffer sells massive ball cap collection to raise money for charity
From the novelty to the sports-themed — new or vintage — if it was a ball cap, former Sackville Eastern Shore MP Peter Stoffer likely had it.
The massive collection began in 1997, when the then-rookie NDP MP was meeting with a representative from the Newfoundland shrimp industry.
“He saw the three hats on my desk and he said, ‘You like hats, eh?’ And I said, ‘Yeah!’ So he gave me his, and now I have four. So what do you do? I just tacked them onto the wall,” Stoffer said.
“And then one of the cleaners of the building said, ‘Hey, I got two hats.’ I got six now. And it just steamrolled from there.”
From there, it grew to over 6,500 hats, all adorning the walls and every spare inch of his Parliament Hill office.
The hats came in as presents, souvenirs, in the mail and even as part of wills.
When Stoffer was defeated in last October’s election, he packed up those hats and knew right away he would be selling them to raise money for charity.
“As my wife said, ‘You’re not bringing them into the house,'” he said with a laugh.
On Friday, the hats were displayed on tables at the Kinsmen Community Centre in Lower Sackville. Most of the hats were sold for $1, with all of the money going to the Kinsmen and Kinette clubs, Walter Callow Wheelchair Buses, and the HMCS Sackville Trust.
Pat Bowers, the president of the Kinsmen Club of Sackville, said it meant a lot to be chosen as one of the charities that would benefit from the sale.
“We’re a non-profit organization so all of the money that we actually bring in from the community is actually put back out in the community,” Bowers said.
“Everything we make today will go back out to a charity in Sackville of some type.”
A steady stream of shoppers came in looking for a deal and to chat with the long-time MP.
“I’m here to support Peter Stoffer, spend a couple dollars on some of these ball caps because he’s donating the money to charity anyway, [that’s] the type of person he is,” said John Labelle, a 38-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy.
Stoffer, who served as Veterans Affairs critic, has been a vocal supporter of veterans and a champion of their causes.
That’s why his most cherished caps – a D Day anniversary hat and a paratrooper hat – will never be up for sale.
The two were given to him by the widow of his late friend and WWII paratrooper, Harold Chuck Elliott.
“I haven’t even worn those, they’re so revered,” Stoffer said.
“Eventually when I go, I’m going to pass them to my kids … His efforts and the efforts of millions of others helped liberate my parents so it’s the least I could do.”
Any hats that are not sold at Friday’s sale will be donated to Beacon House, a charity that provides food and clothing to those in need in the Sackville area.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.