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Toronto teacher doubles down on her favourite worthy causes

Lorraine and Richard Holt, with daughter Ava racing around, turn their home into a gallery for a weekend.

PETER POWER/The Globe and Mail

The donor: Lorraine Holt

The gift: Raising $9,000 and climbing

The cause: Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital

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Lorraine Holt has always been an art lover, but she never felt comfortable visiting an art gallery. Instead, she liked to buy art directly from artists or from out-of-the-way places such as restaurants.

A couple of years ago, she decided to try to match her love of art with fundraising for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a cycling event in aid of Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital. She contacted about 50 artists with an idea. She would turn her Toronto home into an art gallery for a weekend, displaying pieces and offering them for sale. Artists would get all the proceeds from any sale and in return they would sponsor her for the ride.

"These artists, who had no clue who I was, just put their trust in me and it worked," Ms. Holt, a teacher, recalled. She sold about $12,000 of art that year and received about $2,500 in donations. She did the show again last month and sold $25,000 worth of artwork. She is expecting more than $7,000 in donations from the artists for the ride.

Ms. Holt said she wanted to support the ride in part because her father-in-law died of cancer a few years ago and one of her students was diagnosed with leukemia last year. She hopes the art show not only raises money for a worthy cause but also encourages people to consider buying art.

"I just remember buying my first piece of art. I was just sitting in a restaurant and really loving the piece of art that was beside me. It just did something to me," she said. "More people need to have original art in their homes."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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