On the 21st and 22nd of September 2012 I took part in my first volunteer charity event.
It was all arranged by email with the RSPB and it was very well organised. An information pack and collection kit was sent to me so I knew exactly what I was doing. I also had contact details should I have any questions.
On Friday the 21st I rushed from work, straight to Tesco. I’d only promised to do half an hour as I didn’t know how fast I would get there and collections stop at 6pm. I managed to get there earlier, just before 5, so I did a full hour (the recommendation was 2 a day over the 2 days). I met a couple of other collectors who were about to leave. I think I may have surprised them with my costume! I think the Tesco staff were amused by it too.
Due to my lack of time on Friday, I’d promised to do 3 ours on Saturday. I can see why 2 hours at a time is recommended. After the first 2 hours I started to droop a bit! Though that may have been due to the heat. I was in full costume, in the sun. I was very glad I’d packed a drink.
I didn’t have a bird costume or the time to make one, so I went in a tiger onesie! My tenuous excuse is that some tigers live in rainforests which is what we set out to save. I figured it could be a talking point.
Bird or not, having a costume seemed to make a really big difference. It attracted a lot of attention, comments and consequently donations. Some even said their donation was due to the costume – “you deserve this for standing there dressed like that”. Children especially liked my look and encourage their parents to give them some change so they could pop it in my bucket.
I’m normally quite a reserved person and it sounds odd, but it was a good feeling standing there looking like I did. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people smile a me. I hope I brightened a few peoples days.
I looked really really silly and I really was rather hot, but at the end of my shift my bucket felt weighty, so it was all worth it. It was surprising how many people came up to me.
I volunteered as I have supported a number of conservation charities for some time and I felt like the time was right to try donating time instead of money. I had a good time and would do it again. Just give me long enough to forget how hot I got in the costume was first!
I like the idea of volunteering to try new things and learn new skills, but most importantly to make a difference.
Thank you to the RSPB for the great experience and thank you to Tesco for letting me stand there like a silly sausage.
Photos from some Together for Trees collectors on facebook here Looks like they all had fun!
Would you try volunteering?
What volunteering experience do you have?
What should I try next?