Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Award after 16 years of helping out the foodbank

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A long time Tauranga Community Foodbank volunteer has been made the organisation's first life member in recognition of his service.

Richard Harnett has been volunteering at the organisation for almost 16 years and, the foodbank put on a potluck lunch to say thank you.

Many volunteers, both past and present, attended a small ceremony in which Mr Harnett was given a certificate and gift vouchers.

Mr Harnett spent much of his adult life working in warehouses, so giving his time to the foodbank was a perfect fit when he decided to do volunteer work.

Read more: Biscuits donation boosts foodbank

He started at the foodbank in 2000 at the old Dive Cres premises working one day a week and was soon helping out twice a week. In the last five or so years, Mr Harnett has been stacking shelves, buying stock and doing weekly stocktakes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

"Warehouse work is all I've known, really. I just come down here and do what I've got to do and move on."

As well as helping out at the foodbank, Mr Harnett volunteered with FullStop on Friday nights once a month and helped out at the Church of Christ Otumoetai.

Former foodbank chairman Don Brebner, who was in the role for 12 years, was at Mr Harnett's lunch to help celebrate the occasion.

"Richard was here when I came aboard, which was near 2000, and he had already done two or three years before it. I left in 2011 and he's still here."

Mr Brebner said he suspected it was giving up their time which kept many of the volunteers young.

"Having to walk around and serve other people is good for the soul."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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