RDP: Charitable

Helping Hands

We’ve all had those phone calls from non-profit organisations wanting us to support them either once-off by buying raffle tickets or merchandise or more frequently these days by making an ongoing financial commitment. I don’t like getting them because I feel guilty that I must so often say no. There are so many causes that need our help and they are all worthy, helping children get an education, medical research, animal welfare, the environment. It’s easy to donate if you are well off and it will even be tax-deductible. It’s a lot tougher if you are hard up yourself.

Salvation Army Shop. Kolforn (Wikimedia) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Many people don’t like to deal with charities because they feel that a great deal of their money will end up going to administration and not to the people or animals that need it. That’s not unreasonable because it does happen. I respect and admire the work of the Salvation Army but many people tell me that their Op Shops, and those of other big non-profits, are becoming almost too expensive for people on low incomes to shop in. I suppose it’s inevitable, they run them as businesses, sometimes with paid managers. Their core business is fundraising, not providing affordable goods to low-income earners.

However, there are many ordinary people making a difference to the lives of others, just quietly going about their business and not thinking of any reward. As you know I volunteered at the Op Shop in Geeveston for about three years. The shop was started about eight years ago by Juarne Bird and her sister Rowena to help the local community by having affordable goods for sale and also by providing opportunities for some of the young mums in the area to get some work experience volunteering at the shop. After the first few years, she had to find larger premises and that is how the shop came to be at the local school in an unused classroom. As well as donating to the school the shop supports many other local organisations with donations. All the staff are still volunteers.

Geeveston Op Shop.
Outside the Geeveston Op Shop.

Many people in the Huon Valley are what Aussies call “Battlers”. There is not a lot of work and something like the bushfires last summer can be devastating for local businesses. However, there is a strong sense of community and people try to help each other out even if they don’t have a lot themselves.

I want to mention my friend Karen Brown who I worked with at the Op Shop. During the bushfires, the shop was closed for a couple of weeks but Karen was busy. As well as taking in various friends and relatives and assorted pets who had to evacuate she spent hours every day cooking and taking food to the evacuation centre in Huonville where many people were sheltering. She bought a lot of the food with her own money. Nobody asked her to do it. She just did. This was not just for a couple of days, I think it was for about two weeks.

News from Huonville and SE Tassie Photo by “Spelio” 4 Feb 2019 on Flickr.

Those of you who use social media may be familiar with “Pay It Forward” sites. Basically, the way they work, with a few variations is that someone donates an item to the site which people can ask for and then the recipient, in turn, donates an item to the site. A local lady called Lyn Duggan decided to start one of these sites on Facebook and by doing this has been able to help out a lot of needy families in the area as people often donate multiple items She ended up having to buy a shipping container to store goods in. As well as sorting and bagging goods to be donated Lyn also cooks meals for families who are doing it tough. This year she has, with help from a few others involved with the site, collected and wrapped hundreds of Christmas presents as well. Apart from donations of goods, from members on the PIF site, Lyn spends a lot of her own money. Again nobody asked her to do it; she saw a need and she set out to do something about it.

I personally think that people like Juarne, Karen and Lyn should get some kind of recognition for what they do in the community so even though I don’t know if any of them will read this I’m putting it out there that these are pretty awesome women.


I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.


  1. Thanks for your response to this morning’s prompt. It warms our hearts to know about generous people who willingly help — and even take in — other people in need. I’m afraid here in North America we may howl about the poor, but tend to think in terms of “The government should do something.”
    I managed a Charity shop — or Thrift Shop, we say — for a year and look at things from several angles. Nowadays with so many women working til 65, it’s hard to find able volunteers. A lot of our ladies were seniors, but had their own lives and it was hard for some of them, in certain seasons, to find time for their one day a week.
    Some volunteers were really great, some not. I really pushed to get the store to stay open on a Saturday — and that was always my day to work because few others would. Being manager, I did get an honorarium, for which I was very thankful, considering I was there full-time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Getting volunteers especially good one is always hard. At the one I wrote about they started with younger women who had pre schoolers but many only managed a couple of hours a day. Over time it changed and now the current volunteers are older. I started to do it because as an unemployed person over 55 I had the option to fulfill my work obligation by either job searching or volunteer work. I think an honarium is a fair thing if you are there full time, especially if travel is involved as you have to pay for petrol and that can add up.


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