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