With International Volunteer Day coming up on Sunday, New Zealand Red Cross Shops are putting a call out for hundreds more volunteers to help during the holiday season and beyond.
Red Cross Shops up and down the country are desperate for help as many long-term
volunteers are worried about returning to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Retail Manager Talei Kitchingman says around 300 additional people are needed to help keep the 46 stores well-stocked and running smoothly. “We are very grateful to our
shop volunteers who are working extra hours to support our teams, but we would love to
share the load.”
She says while it’s often been a challenge to ensure enough helping hands, as the
pandemic continues and people’s circumstances may have changed, finding enough people has become a real struggle right across the country.
“It’s understandable some people are anxious about returning to volunteer in the shops right now, or may not have the time available to volunteer that they used to. So we’re looking for new volunteers who may be retired, studying, or who work part time who would like to contribute to their community. We follow all Government COVID-19 guidelines to keep our people and customers safe.”
Ms Kitchingman says people have been very generous donating items to the stores lately,
and with so much demand, the lack of volunteers is impacting the stores. “We can’t get the stock out on the floor fast enough, we can’t present the shops as we’d like or provide the level of service that’s needed. We could be selling so much more.”
She says Red Cross Shops play many roles. “Our shops are a hub in many communities
where people can meet others and buy affordable things for their homes. They also provide work experience for young people and job seekers, and they support environmental sustainability as donated goods are ‘recycled, reused and reloved.”
Red Cross Shop coordinator Maree Brogan used to volunteer in the Rangiora shop and now works in the Woolston store. Woolston needs another 10 volunteers and Ms Brogan hopes more people will come forward soon. “The Red Cross team have become like family to me.
We are all working for a good cause and we can all have a good laugh together. It really
makes you feel like you are giving back and doing something good for others.”
New Zealand Red Cross Secretary General Sarah Stuart-Black says Red Cross Shops are an important source of funding for their organisation, which carries out humanitarian work including supporting former refugees and helping people in the event of a disaster.
Ms Stuart-Black says although there has been a good response to calls for shop volunteers so far, particularly from students, many more are needed. “We have plenty of volunteer opportunities, so if people are not interested in working in a shop, they can volunteer in other areas including helping resettle former refugees, delivering Meals on Wheels or joining one of our Disaster Welfare Response Teams. We encourage people to get in touch with us and give volunteering a go.”