For Ristina Ferrari, a cup of tea with friends has led her on a journey from tragedy to giving to those in need in her community.

Held each summer at her home in Stouffville, Ont., her Lavender Rose Tea Party brings together local women for a night of themed fun, steeped tea and giving to the Salvation Army thrift store in Newmarket, Ont.

“I started this following the death of my first husband,” explains Ristina. The party is named after the tea set he gave to her, and the guests are women over 50 who live in the Ontario communities of Richmond Hill, Stouffville and Unionville.

Later on, Ristina decided to add another facet to the get-togethers.

“In 2007, I contacted The Salvation Army's thrift store in Newmarket,” she says, “and we've been donating to them since then. The ladies agree that it is one of the best charities.”

Each year, 25 to 40 guests bring donations of gently used clothing, furniture and home decor items. “I wanted something everyone can do, and the ladies always bring enough stuff to fill a truck!” says Ristina.

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