This week is National Volunteer Week where all around the country our 1.2 million volunteers are celebrated. This year's theme is "Whiria te tangata - weaving the people together". Volunteering, Mahi Aroha and social action weave people and communities together as we stand together in our differences and choose to connect. Northland has the highest rate of volunteering in New Zealand. Around 37 per cent of the adult population volunteer about four hours per week on average, according to Volunteering Northland. More information, including how to volunteer, can be found at nationalvolunteerweek.nz.
Today we feature some of our amazing volunteers.

In the years Anna Crum has been volunteering at the Whangārei SPCA she's fostered around hundreds of kittens and numerous mother cats.

It gives her enormous pleasure and she does it because of her love of animals.

And it's this dedication that has seen her win the "Fantastic Foster Family" award in the 2019 SPCA Purina Volunteer Awards, one of six awards given by SPCA and Purina during National Volunteer Week. The awards celebrate the 5000 volunteers who give their time, talent and energy to SPCA across the 39 SPCA centres and 56 SPCA Op Shops.

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Retail manager for SPCA Op Shop in Kamo and Whangārei Alison Fromont nominated Crum for the award, saying she has helped provide care for hundreds of kittens over the years while also volunteering at the SPCA Second Chance Store.

"Anna has dedicated herself to saving cats and kittens, literally saving the lives of hundreds of them. During the last kitten season, she fostered 114 kittens as well as some of the mother cats. She is such a compassionate person," Fromont said.

More than 120 nominations were received from SPCA staff and volunteers across the country for the awards. The nominations were narrowed down to a shortlist and judged by Andrea Midgen, CEO, SPCA and Jennifer Chappell, country manager, Purina.

Midgen said that SPCA simply could not function without the loyal contribution of the national network of volunteers, and partners such as Purina, who have sponsored these awards since 2016 and ensure all SPCA's cats and dogs nationwide are fed with Purina One.

"Our dedicated volunteer base is the lifeblood of our organisation, many of whom have worked with us for several years. It is because of these incredible people that SPCA can continue to help tens of thousands of animals each year. Together with Purina, we want to acknowledge the difference these volunteers make to the lives of animals in need," Midgen said.

"Our volunteers help with every single aspect of SPCA's work – from cleaning and feeding animals, to helping with administration and fundraising. Our op shop volunteers receive, clean and merchandise donated goods to help raise vital funds.''