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15 June 2012

We feature here an article by Stuart Cottom, from the Australian and New Zealand Association, on volunteering with The Salvation Army Red Shield Industries.

The article was first published in ANZA magazine, June 2012 issue, reprodcued here with the kind permission of ANZA.

Second Home

Stuart Cottom explains why being a volunteer is so rewarding.

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT to do with that bag of clothes you've outgrown and been meaning to get rid of? Growing up in Sydney, nearly every public car park or public school had a Homeless Society or The Smith Family donation bin, and in nearly every suburb there was a Vinnies store that accepted donations. In Singapore, the answer is not quite as obvious. Before you decide to push the bag down the refuse chute, there is one organisation that does accept donations.

In April, ANZA Action met with The Salvation Army's volunteer resources manager, James Lim Soon Leong. James showed us around the major processing plant at 309 Upper Serangoon Road, which is also the site of one of the larger family thrift stores. The store itself boasts a large display of furniture, electronics and some less easily described items, such as a Hard Rock Cafe alien which reminded us of Louis the Fly. 

Following our tour of the plant, we were introduced to process manager Joseph Tan Joo Hock, and marketing and promotions manager Nicholas Tan, to discuss how ANZA could help out by providing volunteers. Joseph was excited to explain the primary needs of the processing centre and thrift store and answer our questions. He then posed a very interesting question: What do volunteers get out of volunteering? 

He explained that the benefit to the volunteers was twofold. He has seen younger volunteers mature overnight as they met new people and learnt from the wonderful staff, who work full-time. For older volunteers, the chance to see the commitment and devotion of the staff that work at The Salvation Army was extremely rewarding. 

Kathy Redman agreed. She is a United States expat who volunteers at the Singapore Cancer Society who we found shopping for costuming and accessories for a professional photo shoot. 

The programme is designed to help empower women and teens so they can move forward through life's challenges with confidence and a positive attitude. Kathy is a regular shopper, and she explained that when she shops at the thrift stores it is like treasure hunting. 

‘Meeting interesting and wonderful people and developing valued relationships with the thrift store employees is great fun. It is like Christmas every day with surprise after surprise as you wander from room to room‘; she explained. 

With this kind of dedication from the employees at the centre, it would be hard not to get something out of volunteering. ANZA Action works closely with The Salvation Army so ANZA volunteers can make a contribution to the wonderful work they are currently doing. Not all of the donations end up in the thrift store. They have an entire section of the building devoted entirely to provide humanitarian aid for the region's natural disasters - for example, they sent packages to Japan following 2011's devastating tsunami and earthquake. They also distribute goods to other South East Asian countries in need.

Joseph has some very specific needs and is hoping that among our ANZA volunteers there are some people who would like to help out. But even if they don't possess the expertise he requires, as long as they have heart and passion, he is happy to include them in the team. It is important - to consider the kind of volunteer assignment you would like to take on.

  • Do you want to use skills and experiences you already have, or do you want to do something completely different?
  • What do you most want to learn by volunteering?
  • What do you not want to do as a volunteer? 
  • Do you want a regular, short-term, ad hoc or one-off assignment?
  • Do you want an ongoing, short-term or one-off assignment? 
  • What do you wish to gain from your volunteer experience? 
For more information on volunteering with The Salvation Army Red Shield Industries, you can refer to http://sav-opp.blogspot.sg/search/label/DIK%20Processing.