Volunteers shine the light of goodness
Teachers Lucy and Trevor are enthusiastic Salvation Army volunteers in Far North Queensland, committed to helping others, especially at Christmas time. They believe that giving to others is “the true spirit of Christmas, something Jesus would be doing”.
Christmas volunteering at the Salvos
As teachers, with their own family, and a busy life, couple Lucy and Trevor had wanted to do more to help others and so, around six years ago, approached their local Salvos. They were introduced to Christmas volunteering, which works particularly well for them in the Christmas/summer school holiday break and gives them the opportunity to serve their community on an even greater level.
Trevor says: “Before we connected with the local Salvos, we’d thought, ‘The Salvos do a lot of good, and they helped us in the past.’ So we found out about Christmas volunteering at the Salvos and offered our help. We do different things each year. Most years we sort out the toys and other products into categories, then people come and choose for themselves. We also deliver food parcels.”
He explains the focus is all about the [community members] — to make the experience special for them, and give the opportunity and dignity for those who couldn’t otherwise afford it, to go ‘Christmas shopping’, but with no cost.
“We help the community members, talk to them and encourage them,” Trevor says. “We try to find out the interests of the children so they can receive presents they will love. It’s much harder to get teenage gifts.
“I tend to ask those who come in how they’re going, and often they start to open up about how difficult their lives are, why they’re coming in. This grounds us, it’s what Christmas really is about — giving joy. It’s the true spirit of Christmas, something Jesus would be doing.”
Christmas love with no judgement
Lucy says she loves the fact that everyone is warmly and caringly welcomed.
“There is no judgment, no pressure on any of the community members who come,” she says. “We’ve found the church that walks the talk, and that is what we like. People come from different walks of life and over the years there has been an increase in numbers, a lot of new faces as well as the regulars.”
Volunteers have guidelines, but there is also some freedom when giving out gifts, Lucy says.
“If you feel you want to give a little more to someone who’s had a particularly hard time, it is possible to be extra generous. The focus is on people and their needs.”
Find out how you can become a volunteer with The Salvation Army this Christmas and spread the light of goodness with people in need.
Both Lucy and Trevor stress that Salvos Christmas is a team effort. They feel humbled and thankful to be part of such a wonderful team in their Salvos church/centre.
“To volunteer before Christmas makes Christmas really Christmas,” says Trevor. “People appreciate that you take the time to listen. Some of them cry, some can’t believe they are getting this stuff given to them. Just seeing the relief in their faces, it says, ‘I’ve actually got something to give my children on Christmas morning.’
“Volunteering with the Salvos enriches our lives and makes us feel a part of something good and meaningful. Sometimes people don’t realise they give us more than we give them.”
Volunteers bring goodness and hope
Major Ben Johnson heads up the local Salvos where the couple volunteers and says: “Our amazing workers and volunteers like Lucy and Trevor have such a huge impact in the lives of others. It is not just food and gifts that have such an impact, but also the fact that people know that so many others care through the kindness of volunteers.
“With such a diverse community in the region we seek to meet an equally diverse range of needs. From supporting refugees to those facing huge health issues, relationship breakdown, escaping family and domestic violence. Whatever the situation, people are often heartbroken to think they can’t feed their kids or have little to nothing to give them over Christmas,” he says.
“For the Salvos, Jesus is the hope of Christmas and we seek to shine God’s love and goodness. Volunteers like Trev and Lucy have made that connection themselves and hence do that beautifully!”
Experience the hope and joy Jesus’ birth brings to our lives/can bring to your life at The Salvation Army this Christmas.