A heartwarming story about a friendship that crossed several generations has gone viral and led to a deluge of people offering to help the elderly.

You may remember the story of Joe and Elvor - an unlikely friendship between a 28-year-old Pāpāmoa builder and a 96-year-old Tauranga retiree Elvor Shaw - that touched hearts around the country.

Early childhood teacher Denise Furey saw the video online.

"Straight away I was like 'this is so beautiful'. I found a piece in that clip that resonated with me. I just went, 'okay I'm applying'."


Furey immediately called the Salvation Army and signed up as a volunteer. She's one of 18 people in the process of signing up in the Tauranga area alone.

"What resonated with me was when he said if his Nana was alone somewhere he'd want someone to go and visit her. And that's exactly how I feel."

Despite working and studying for a Masters in Indigenous Studies, Furey said she'll make the time.

"One hour a week. We think of how much time we put into so many things. One hour to give to someone? Absolutely."

It's been a busy time for Salvation Army senior services co-ordinator, Sheryl Duffy-York.

She has been overwhelmed by the response to the story, and call centres around the country are fielding offers to volunteer.

"Young mums, young people who are working full time, older people who would normally say they've done their dash."

But with volunteers flooding in, Duffy-York said the Salvation Army now needed the public's help to find more elderly people to visit.


"Research has told us that loneliness and social isolation negatively affects health and wellbeing," Duffy-York said.

"We usually get all our referrals from the DHB after there's usually been a medical incident.

"What we are hoping is maybe there's a chance we can get to these people sooner.

"Who do you know in your neighbourhood, family, community who's a bit lonely, who needs just a bit of support?

"If we can find these people and match them earlier then maybe we can avoid some of this 'falling off the cliff'."

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