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Happy to help . . . Staffing the St John Community Shop on Wednesday were (from left) Shirley Forbes, Terry Kent, Dale Wilson, Suzie Kent, Theo Jordens, and Glad McNeill. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

It is National Volunteer Week – time to celebrate the fact that volunteers make the Waitaki district go round.

One organisation that epitomises this phenomenon is St John.

“We’re all familiar with the lovely yellow vehicles,” St John Oamaru area committee chairman Terry Kent said, referring to the ambulances.

“There’s a significant volunteer group there.”

There were also many other groups of volunteers providing St John services in the community, bringing the total to more than 75 people, Mr Kent said.

One service that is not so well-known is “Caring Callers”, involving people in their own homes making daily or weekly phone calls to check on the wellbeing of others.

About 30 volunteers work in the St John Community Shop in lower Thames St, which offers a wide range of household items, clothing, and furniture.

“It is professionally run and volunteer staffed,” Mr Kent said.

“The volunteers working here get to meet people in the best of circumstances. We’re about to go out and deliver a purchase – a lovely lounge suite that will put a smile on the buyer’s face.

“Then we’re picking up something, which will make the donor smile because they know it will do some good and they feel good about it.

“The staff are also smiling about it. This particular part of the organisation represents miles of smiles.”

Shop volunteer Shirley Forbes said customers were always delighted with the bargains they found.

“It makes their day.”

The shop’s reputation for attractively displayed merchandise in a welcoming environment was no accident. Mr Kent said the public expected clinical excellence from the ambulance service, so that standard was replicated in the shop.