Volunteer of the Month in big demand
By Paul Brooks
Sandra Cockburn is a reluctant Volunteer of the Month, but her volunteering record speaks for itself.
"About 18 years ago I volunteered for Hospice; they were moving from Wanganui East to the hill (St John's) then," says Sandra. "I did all sorts there: I worked in the care unit, on reception … I stayed there for about 11 years and I had a break. I've been back for about a year now.
"In between all that, Simon Aitken from the Cancer Society approached me to see if I'd be interested in managing the Cancer Society shop [situated where Cotton On is now, in Victoria Ave]."
She did that for four or five years, until the shop closed and the building was demolished for redevelopment.
"Then I got involved with the SPCA shop, which I'm still working at, then, a while ago, the Hospice Boutique approached me and asked if I would do a few shifts.
"Just in the last few months Margaret Healey from St Vincent's approached me to do a shift a week for them."
And now the Cancer Society has asked Sandra if she would help with Relay for Life. She'll be selling raffle tickets.
Of course, when the Cancer Society opened the Daffodil Day pop-up shop for six weeks last year, Sandra was involved in that.
"We were so fortunate and people in Whanganui are just so kind. We got really good donations that we could get good money for."
The shop made $40,000 for the Cancer Society.
"People are very generous in this town."
With all of that volunteer work, plus three grandchildren, Sandra does not have much free time.
"I love my volunteering. I've met wonderful people through the op shops: some have become really good friends."
Sandra says women's clothing is probably the biggest seller, although she says a lot of people now are looking for retro clothing … "the stuff we grew up with. It's done the full cycle". That includes old furniture as well as clothing.
"I'm happy to help anyone at any time, if I can, as long as they appreciate it."
She says a lot of the enjoyment of the job depends on the team she's working with. A happy team translates to a lot of fun.
"It's my happy place: I enjoy it and don't mind giving time freely."
As Volunteer of the Month, Sandra receives a badge, a certificate and a $40 voucher from Mud Ducks.