With the Victoria Plus Awards Ceremony fast approaching, I have been more inspired than ever by our students to give back to the community myself.

My many loyal fans and followers may remember a blog post I did a while back called Get Out There on the subject of volunteering and how I was looking into what I myself could do to help. Well, the wait is over for the horde of admirers who follow my blog religiously. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here are the activities I have decided to give a go:

The first volunteer activity I took up was actually my mother’s brainchild. In her line of work she often sees children with a difficult start to life. This, coupled with the fact that I was moping around her house in the evenings having suddenly found myself with a whole lot of time on my hands after a recent break-up, got her thinking and she came up with a way we (especially me) could put our time to good use, do something together, and combine a hobby we share with the desire we both have to help.

We decided we would start knitting little clothes and toys for children in the hospital. My colleague Heather who runs the Vic Plus Programme along with Jane, then showed me this website: http://littlesproutsnz.org/ This entirely volunteer-run charity is already doing what we had in mind, but on a much larger scale. So we decided to donate our knitting to them to put in their ‘baby boxes’ which then go to babies selected by social workers at their charity partners which include: the Neonatal Trust, the Women’s Refuge, Red Cross Refugee Services, Barnardos, Birthright, Family Start programs (who support high need families), teen parent programs, the Mary Potter Hospice, hospital social workers and more.

I started off knitting booties, and now I’d like to move onto something a little more complex, so I’m going to start going to the Stitch and Bitch Knitting Circle at 7pm on a Monday night at the Southern Cross. Everyone’s welcome, from beginners to experienced knitters, and the idea is that you help each other out, share ideas, and have a yarn (excuse the pun) while working on whatever project you have on the go. ‘Why not flip the script and give Grandma a cardie next Christmas?’

The next project I got involved with was the Wellington Shoebox Christmas. You are allocated a child from a low-decile school in Wellington and given their name, age and interests. You then you put together a Christmas present for that child inside of a wrapped shoe box. The 8 year old girl whose present I put together this year likes dinosaurs, drawing and science. Based on the number of volunteers who have signed up, Wellington Shoebox Christmas takes on whole schools at a time for the project. This year they will be delivering smiles to 3614 Wellington kids who normally may not necessarily get presents at Christmas time.

Another cool idea I’ve got involved with is the Reverse Advent Calendar. Although the link is to a Canadian website, the idea is the same: you put a food item in a box each day in December and then donate the box to your local Food Bank for Christmas. Since a whole box of groceries will be too heavy for me to carry to the supermarket all at once, I’m donating a couple of things to the Food Bank each time I do my groceries between now and Christmas.

The other thing I’m going to be involved with is the SPCA. I have training on Sunday and then I will be able to start volunteering with them in one of their numerous roles. As I would love to have a pet but as an avid traveller don’t want to commit to one right now, I figure that this way I’ll get to play with animals without having the commitment of becoming a pet-owner. However I imagine that this will involve a lot less cuddling and a lot more cleaning than the image I have in my mind…

So if you’re not already signed up to the Vic Plus Programme, you can do so on CareerHub. Check with Jane and Heather as to which of your volunteer activities you can be allocated points for and work towards either the Vic Plus Certificate or Award alongside your studies.

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