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A collection like no other

CBS woman uses unique collection to help others in need

By Mark Squibb | Vol. 32 No. 27 (Sept. 18, 2019)

Some 500 Barbie dolls, about 350 tea pots, 400 china cups and saucers, countless plates, trinkets, old cameras, figurines, glasses, mugs, vases, an antique chess set, and more.

It’s almost too much to count, but Madonna Porter of CBS can tell you the story behind each and every item in her massive collection.

She’s been collecting her whole life, and began in earnest about 15 years ago, setting aside a storage building on her Seal Cove property to house the collection.

“I’m not a leading hand but I can lead myself,” she joked of the undertaking.

She thinks the oldest item in her collection is an ornate, stone chess gift given to her by an Innuit school teacher she once knew, which she believes might be from the 1800s.

One of her most cherished pieces is a framed portrait of the Titanic which was left to her by a man whom she had collected funds for in the past.

Another of her most valued pieces is an old-fashioned wall light left to her by a friend.

“That there really, really, really means a lot to me,” she said, gentling handling the glass globe.

“That’d be the last thing I think that I’d let go.”

She said the Barbie doll collection has been valued at $250,000 alone, but that she doesn’t have plans to sell the collection just yet. Instead, she wants to use it to bring a little joy to others.

Back in 2009, Porter had approached the Town of CBS about getting a permit to open up her collection to the viewing public, but was denied by the town council due to safety concerns and liabilities should something go amiss.

“Which I can understand,” Porter said.

Despite that, she has used the collection to bring joy to people’s lives in her own way.

“I’ve had little children come in here, and say this is beautiful, and they’ve got a lot of little friends that would like to see this,” said Porter.

Porter said she has used to the collection to do good over the years, including selling pieces to fundraise to help cover treatment and travel costs for cancer patients.

She said she held a flea market for a young girl with cancer some years back, “I made $800 for her, and she presented me with this bean baby,” she said, holding up a small, brown plush teddy bear. “She’s 12 years old now, and she told me ‘I can’t remember you, but dad said that you were really good to me.’ That beautiful little girl fought the cancer and came back.”

Porter said she had offered the collection to the Daffodil house, but as she didn’t know where the money would go, in the end she couldn’t part with the collection.

So, for now, she’ll hold onto it and keep helping out in her own way.
“Show a bit of kindness and it’ll come back to you ten-fold,” she said.

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