Chris Hoofdakker has been volunteering with the St Vincent de Paul Society for the last 10 years. Photo: Geordi Offord
Chris Hoofdakker has been volunteering with the St Vincent de Paul Society for the last 10 years. Photo: Geordi Offord

LEND A HAND: Volunteers wanted as Christmas approaches

IT’S usually dubbed the most wonderful time of the year, but for some Christmas can be one of the most difficult.

Now after an increase of demand for support, the St Vincent de Paul Society is calling on Bundy to lend a hand by putting the call out for more volunteers.

The charitable organisation is looking to recruit 240 retail volunteers across the state.

Chris Hoofdakker has been volunteering with Vinnies for the last 10 years, with two of those years in Bundaberg.

After looking after her grandchildren before they started school, she decided to become a volunteer.

“It was just by seeing a sign,” she said.

“I went to my local shopping centre to buy some groceries and the new Vinnies opened up and it had a big sign up saying volunteers wanted.

“So I went in and I asked and they said ‘can you start now’ … I started on the spot.”

Ms Hoofdakker said one of the most rewarding parts of volunteering was speaking with the elderly.

“When I was at school we had to visit an elderly person twice a week, they’re the ones I find hurt the most because they don’t have family visit them, they get lonely and they like to have a conversation,” she said.

Ms Hoofdakker said the Bundaberg Vinnies store is starting to get busier in the lead up to Christmas.

“People always come in looking for nice things for gifts,” she said.

She encouraged anyone thinking about becoming a volunteer to “just do it”.

“It’s enjoyable, everybody tries to help everybody,” she said.

“A lot of people have the conception that you have to be a catholic to work here but you don’t.”

Brisbane Diocesan Central Council President Patricia McMahon said helping local families get back on their feet simply could not happen without the vital contribution of dedicated volunteers.

“Last financial year, Vinnies Queensland provided $272 million in services and support to struggling members of the community — a figure we could not have achieved without our dedicated volunteers who give their time freely to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged Queenslanders,” she said.

“For some of the volunteers at our stores, their work is a chance to give something back to the community and use their skills and experience to help make a significant difference in the lives of local individuals and families.

“For others, it’s a chance to connect with people in the community on the back of a time of isolation and learn new skills in a supportive environment.

“Our volunteers come from all walks of life, are of all ages and generations, and have varied skill sets and areas of expertise — but what they all have in common is a passion for the local community, and helping others during times of need.”

If you would like to become a Vinnies volunteer you can visit their website.

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