Christmas Gift Wrapper and Events Helper
The beauty of volunteering is that one can choose how much time to give and when. Seasonal volunteering is extremely popular with busy people especially those coming from a corporate world, where daily duties sometimes allow for very little excitement.
Currently working full time in the advertising industry, Kurt is one of the amazing volunteers helping every year at our biggest fundraising event: the Christmas Gift Wrap. He started volunteering for this event together with his wife, who was as well volunteering as a gift wrapper. “I initially accompanied my wife just to help her with lunch breaks, but I ended up getting involved and really enjoying it! What started as a lunch-break-replacement-volunteer turned out to be a lot more exciting than expected. […] I didn’t quite know what I was signing up for though” says Kurt.
Christmas Gift wrap is the biggest fundraising event for the Volunteer Centre Croydon. It started in 2012 as a necessity to support the work that goes behind the scenes at the centre and to make sure we can continue the wonderful work of supporting people start volunteering throughout Croydon. The event allows both first-timers and experienced volunteers to do something fun and help their community prepare for the festive season.
“Wrapping gifts is fun, rewarding in the sense that you see your efforts being appreciated by your customers, you see their faces when they receive a nicely wrapped gift. Their happiness is contagious!” agrees Kurt. “It’s also a great way to socialize, both with other fellow wrappers or with customers. Anything can be a topic of conversation while wrapping the gift for the client, from where they have purchased it to what is their last country they have visited. It’s interesting to see how unusual some of the Christmas gifts can get nowadays. You can almost tell a little about your customer just by looking at what they have bought”. When asked what were the most difficult gifts he had to wrap, Kurt admitted “it was one of those wooden, tribal-style statues, a vase with plastic flowers in it and a 1m tall teddy bear which just wouldn’t stay put!”
Christmas Wrap event is notorious for the hectic periods just before Christmas day and it’s a true endurance test for the volunteers, especially when the queues build up. No wonder the best moment for Kurt is “the end of the event on Christmas Eve, after working hard the entire day, wrapping gifts almost non-stop, you get an amazing feeling of accomplishment having helped so many people get ready for ‘Santa’s arrival’ “
We have asked Kurt if the volunteering has made any difference to him. “It made me a better listener, especially that many customers would just start telling their whole life in 10 minutes while waiting for their gift to be wrapped. It also improved my ability to work under pressure: seeing the queue building, having the customer in front of me staring at what I’m doing… I still have to be efficient, make a neat wrap while smiling and maintaining the good mood up!”
Every volunteer participating to this event is helping increase the success of the fundraising. Kurt knows that he is as important as every individual involved in this project. He has been participating since the beginning of the project and he is one of our trusted wrappers. “The best part of doing this event year after year is that I get returning customers who remember me, or the wrap that I did for them the previous year or we chat about any changes that happen since last Christmas. It brings me closer to people”.
We have also asked Kurt what would he say to other people considering volunteering: “[The Christmas Gift Wrap] is an amazing project for all individuals, however first-comers should definitely consider starting early [November] as they would have time to get used to doing things. December and closer to Christmas is super hectic. As for volunteering in general, it’s totally worth it! You must find something you like doing and find a project that means something to you that is rewarding. Otherwise you just do it for the sake of it and it will soon stop being fun.”
Interested in finding more about Christmas Wrap? Find out more by visiting our website http://christmaswrap.weebly.com.