The Donation Station is an amazing place where donation, collation and distribution of in-kind comfort items occurs. But it's more than that. So much more.

A crafty bunch of volunteers!

16 May 2022

The Donation Station is an amazing place where donation, collation and distribution of in-kind comfort items occurs. But it's more than that. So much more.

It's a place where hours upon hours of hand crafted care are on display, quilts and blankets and teddies, tucked into their cubbies on the shelf before being lovingly handed over to someone who really needs it. It's where an exchange of yarn, wood and fabric (all formed into items of comfort, distraction and reflection) happens on a daily basis, but never without an exchange of understanding, of reassurance, too. Where the generousity of the community flows in, and the gratitude of the community flows out.

A place that was once in the safe hands of the volunteers who knew that safety meant stepping away for a year, now two. The Donation Station, stuff of legends, really, where you make a difference. Where 'whatever you can give, you can be life giving' is more than words on a page, it's a belief that drives our volunteers.

“When staff and patients approach the Donation Station, they do so because there is a need for an item that will bring significant comfort and happiness to a patient. When talking with people who contribute items to the Donation Station, they are warm, generous and humble.

To be a part of the connectivity between these two components of the Donation Station community, is both significantly rewarding and meaningful to me.

That I turn up every week to volunteer at the Donation Station is a testament to it giving me an immeasurable sense of purpose and a grand bunch of buddies.”

“I love craft, and thoroughly enjoy using my skills to make people happy. But creating items for the chemotherapy patients goes beyond love of craft: cancer changes both the patient and people round them, and win or lose, it is such a brave fight: I want to honour cancer sufferers. I want them to feel people 'out there' care.”

"I've found that I get far more from it personally than I give. Throughout my life I have benefited from other peoples' generosity and it feels really good to be able to, partly, repay this by donating my time to help such a worthy cause.

I get benefits from both sides of the Donation Station: From those who do the work knitting, sewing and crocheting, I get to talk with them and thank them for their efforts. I also gain an insight into their reasons why they donate, be it from the help they or their family have received at the Canberra Hospital, or just from a sense of community spirit. I will never forget on my second shift a lady came in and apologised for "only" have time to knit some 30 beanies during the past week. Also, the corporate sponsors' generosity, especially at Christmas Time, is amazing.

On the receiving side, I hear from the nurses, and particularly the social workers and pastoral carers of the valuable help provided to people in need and of the gratitude shown by the receivers for this assistance. Again, I am reminded of the Aboriginal Liaison officer's expression of the gratefulness of one of his clients from the receipt of some warm blankets, beanies and a teddy bear for a young mother and her newborn baby. I also think of the Volunteer from Emergency who comes to the Donation Station, religiously, every week to stock up on soft toys and colouring books to keep patients and other family members occupied during, often, very long waits."
“Seniors have many skills and a great depth of experience to offer the community and often see volunteering and donating their services as mutually rewarding. It boost their self-esteem and physical health. It is claimed that volunteers encounter greater longevity and less frequency of heart disease. It may improve mental health and lower the risk of memory loss. They especially value the support they experience from group activities. The Tuggeranong 55+Club knitting group has 52 members who enjoy getting together each week for creative activities plus a friendly chat and afternoon tea. It gives them a sense of pride and identity. Donating their work to good causes adds to their feeling of accomplishment. Ages span almost fifty years with the oldest lady being 101 years old. There is a shared contact list which encourages exchanges of patterns and recipes, but more importantly health issues.”

“I create twiddle muffs for dementia patients. My brother is a dementia patient in NT and each twiddle muff I create reminds me of him. I love to volunteer in my community and I derive much pleasure from creating something which can give pleasure to others.”

"I’ve been extremely privileged to have facilitated the coming together of likeminded people who view volunteering as an ‘honour and a blessing’ and who come together via social media as well as in person, to share in the joy of creating and giving. It has been ‘life changing’ for myself and our members, to have become involved with TCH and the Foundation and I look forward to continuing in our small way, to support TCH in providing exemplary care to our community.”

“I feel great about doing something useful and productive and enjoyable all at the same time.”

"Often we hear from patients and families words like generous, kind, wonderful service, community when we tell them the goods are from the donation station. 24 hours ago a staff member said to me "sometimes the gift of a blanket is the only thing we can do for the patient that is dignified and compassionate."

I often hear staff say the donation station gifts compliment care. The gift says we value and care for you. The looks on the faces of the recipients bring unmeasured and unforgettable joy to the staff. Important for mental wellbeing and morale.

I can’t imagine care without our wonderful volunteers in the donation station and the foundation staff that go the extra mile to find that special blanket or beanie when you make that desperate call."

"On a personal side, my mum always gave freely of her time to volunteer for many associations across Canberra. She passed away late in 2017 and if I can contribute in this small way, I know she would be happy. She set a wonderful example."

From a patient to volunteers:

"I just wanted to thank the CH Foundation, and also the kind person who made the wooden car that my 4 year old son received this morning at the ACT Pathology base at TCH. My son has had to have a series of blood tests recently and he is getting braver each time, and today he was absolutely delighted with the car (he loves all things with wheels!). It hasn't left his side since he came home, and I was hoping that our thanks could be passed on."

This week we are celebrating our amazing volunteers for National Volunteers Week to recognise the dedication and efforts of the generous folk who give their time to support their community. One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time.