OTTAWA -- A simple mistake by an Ottawa small businesswoman has been paid back by the kindness of the community, and then some.

Charlene Burnside sold cupcakes at the Richmond Farmers’ Market. It was her first time at the market and her first time using Square, an electronic payment machine used to accept credit and debit cards.

She says she made a mistake using the device and none of the transactions went through, something she didn’t realize until the end of the weekend. She had sold $2,000 worth of cupcakes.

"Worst moment probably of my life for that minute," she told CTV News. "My heart just literally fell, and I was like, I don’t think I got paid."

She entered each transaction as "cash or other tender", as explained to her by Square. She thought she was using the machine correctly.

“Anytime someone would use their card, it wouldn’t beep but I got this lovely little message that said thanks and with a check mark, so I'm like okay!"

It was a mistake, but what happened next astonished her.

"So many people are just incredible! People were sending me e-transfers; people were sending me messages; people were sending me money just because they felt bad for me," she says.

Her sister posted the ordeal on Facebook and complete strangers, as well as customers who realized what happened, sent her the money.


Hello to all of my customers. To say I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions has been an understatement. Taking on a...

Posted by Jack Of All Cakes on Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Michelle McIver had bought some cupcakes that weekend. She sent money right away after seeing the post,

"It was not even a question, I’m sending my money and I sent it right away," McIver told CTV News.

Desiree Tolley just wanted to donate after seeing what happened. 

"I’m a baker and I know how expensive ingredients can be," Tolley said. 

It wasn't just locals who pitched in. Donations came from as far away as Calgary. 

"I’m across the country and I just figured I can’t send a lot, but I can send something, just in case not everybody who was there got that message and was able to pay back what they had purchased,"said Laurel Gallant.

Burnside made up for her losses so much that she ended up paying it forward to two charities,

"Immediately I knew where it was going, half was going to Candlelighters, and half was going to Roger Nielsen House."

Those two charities are close to her heart. 

"Candlelighters, when my nephew was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, they were literally the first ones there."

Today, her nephew is in remission and enjoys her cupcakes. The whole ordeal was a small mistake; but, one which showed the kindness of the community.

"It just gave me faith again that people are good," says Burnside.