Busy Red Cross Shop seeks new volunteers

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AN ELLON charity shop desperately seeking volunteers is set to hold an open night at their shop

The Red Cross Shop at The Square faces a chronic staff shortage, with just 20 volunteers keeping the shop open six days a week, when the operation requires at least 40 or 60. It is hoped that the Open Night, which runs between 5pm and 8pm, will encourage new local volunteers to help shoulder some of the burden.

Shop volunteers Audrey Gartly and Elma Hay told the Times that staff illness and holidays made running the shop increasingly difficult.

“We’re looking for anybody who can spare upwards of two or three hours a week,” said Assistant Manager Audrey. “We’re very flexible - people can do as little or as much as they want, and we’ll give all the training necessary.”

Elma said: “We find it particularly difficult if anybody is ill, or during the school holidays when many of our volunteers look after their grandchildren.

“There’s so many donations coming through the door that we have trouble keeping up with just the twenty volunteers we have at the moment.”

The Red Cross Shop accepts donations from across the north-east, which must be cleaned, packaged and displayed, or else sent on to other Red Cross Shops. Elma estimated that the staff have to deal with around 120 black bags of donated goods each day, from both local donors and those further affield. Donations can range from toys, books and clothes to more unusual items, including a World War I shell detonator which was donated last month.

“During our busiest periods, we can find it difficult getting around the back of the shop, there are so many bags!” said Elma. “Folk come from across the region both to donate and shop here.”

Audrey added that the shop was always busy, and that the donations received were of the highest quality.

“The donations we receive are absolutely fantastic,” she said. “Always first class, beautiful things. We’re really very lucky in Ellon.”

The charity is gearing up for its winter campaign, which will involve distributing ‘survival kits’ to those vulnerable to the harsh weather.

“We had a very harsh winter last year, and were inundated with requests for help, so we’re preparing well for the same again.” said Audrey.

The ladies are happy to accept help from anyone, from age 17 upwards. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the Red Cross shop by visiting the shop, or by phoning 01358 722000. The volunteers Open Evening will be held on November 11, between 5 and 8pm.