SORTING: Alan and Ann Hobbs sort donations at their home, which has two rooms devoted to Hospice Shop items. Photo supplied

SINCE moving to Whakatane, Alan and Ann Hobbs have dedicated countless hours supporting the community, with the Hospice Shop being a big benefactor of their time.

Going into their home, their dedication is clear, with two rooms in their house filled with goods that are being sorted, tested or repaired for the shops.

Ann puts time in at the Hospice Shop on a weekly shift, and also makes great use of the good quality wool donated to the shop by knitting them into baby hats and booties. Each matching set is put in a bag to keep it clean and new, and sold at the shops for $5 a set.

Alan has an extensive background in electrical work, having worked for a number of power stations, sub stations and power boards doing inspections across the country.

His work for Hospice includes supporting the shops, testing and ticketing electrical goods so they can be sold, repairing goods so they can be sold in the shops, and testing Hospice patient equipment, saving the organisation huge fees.

Ann has also found her niche in getting extra value for goods that won’t sell at the main shop but can be sold in bargain bags. Ann, alongside another volunteer, Ann Benbow, started selling the mid-quality clothing at the markets and then at Kopeopeo in an empty shop when it was available.

She would do a refined sort of sorted donations to determine unsellable goods from sellable ones, and raise extra funds through “fill a bag for $5” pop up sales. The team did fill-a-bag deals that raised extra funds for Hospice, all thanks to the time they put in.

Alan was born in Christchurch, and Ann in Curacao, West Indies, moving to New Zealand as a child. Alan and Ann met at a dance studio in Christchurch in 1962 and since then have had four children and moved all over New Zealand – from Christchurch to Taumarunui, Culverden, Kawerau, Opotiki and then, five years ago, Whakatane.

Between the two of them they have volunteered for charity work with Lions Club, Hiona St Stephens’ op shop in Opotiki, the museum, St Vincent de Paul and more.

“When I worked at Hiona St Stephens I got to know the people at the Whakatane shop.

They said if you ever move to Whakatane, come and work with us. So when we moved here I applied to Hospice and St Vincent, and I’m still here.”

Two months later Alan started doing the electrical testing too. “We got involved because charity work is important, but also because we have always belonged to community groups, whether it’s scouts, social or volunteering. You get to meet people and we enjoy that part of it as well as what we do. We get a lot of enjoyment out of meeting people that work there, and the customers too. It’s all for the good of the community really.”

Ann and Alan are often impressed with what comes into the shop. “The most fabulous thing we had was a massive ship in a glass case. It was fascinating. What’s interesting is people bring different things in that you can relate to or that bring back memories. Something your mother used to use, for example.”

Alan has seen a lot of good quality products come in to the shop and wants to encourage more donations. “It’s nice to see people bring in good quality stuff for resale,” Alan says.

“The products get a second life and it supports the community too.”

When going into the shop on a weekly basis, Ann finds there are a lot of bargains to resist.

“You have to be very disciplined, but I have found some great clothing.”

Alan says supporting the Hospice service is something they chose to do because of the community benefit, not their own experiences. “We haven’t had much to do with Hospice as such, but we know what a wonderful job they do for people who are terminally ill. They go out of their way to supply all the things that are needed.”

Volunteer services manager Anna Hughes says while the work is enjoyable and rewarding, more volunteers are needed to keep the shop running. “We couldn’t open the shop one day last week because we were short on volunteers and the shop can’t operate without a team.”

Alan and Ann say even if people are unsure, they should give volunteering a go. “You get people coming in and they can be unsure but once they get in, they really enjoy it and make friends along the way. From the volunteers, to the staff and regular customers, it’s a great community.” Anne says.

“Hospice regularly acknowledges our work and organises social occasions for volunteers.

You don’t always get that in other voluntary roles.”

“Hospice is always looking for volunteers if people are interested,” Alan says. “It’s so enjoyable and you know you’re doing some good for the community.”

Alan and Ann also volunteer for other charitable organisations, saying they like to, “spread the love,” and that it beats sitting at home to age. However, with the immense number of hours they put in, they clearly have a soft spot for Hospice.

Both say Hospice does such good in the community so they wouldn’t have it any other way. Prospective volunteers are invited to visit the Whakatane Hospice shop on 109 The Strand or email