Tane’s most recent voluntary mission has been with the Wellington Central-based ‘Free Store’ organisation. Tane’s chirpy and friendly nature makes him the perfect fit – he’s just ‘that guy’ you could rely on for anything from helping you move house to trying to stop climate change single-handedly. On top of his volunteering work, he is studying for a Bachelor of Science at Victoria University; however, he hopes to carry on helping those in need after he has graduated.

The Free Store collects leftover food from cafés and restaurants around Wellington then hosts open-invitation gatherings of people who do not have access to the same luxuries so many of us take for granted. Tane speaks highly of his work and really enjoys working with other like-minded people.

“It’s awesome! We work by either walking around Wellington city picking up unused food from cafés, or we prepare the food and make coffee for the people who get to enjoy it. I just do whatever I can to lend a helping hand.”

Although this particular job is unpaid, Tane has also worked for other charities where pay is provided, but “you don’t do this kind of thing for the money, no way.” The job requires an empathetic, caring and positive personality, he says, and helping people is much more rewarding when you are positive towards the job.

Many volunteer organisations are more than happy to take someone interested in helping out. Some require an online signup, phone call or face-to-face meeting first. Tane, for example, signed up to a roster online with The Free Store.

“I heard about this job through a friend. She had volunteered a couple of times and convinced me to sign up online to work with her. For anyone looking to do volunteer work, I suggest grabbing a good mate and getting involved in something you believe in. It makes the task of going into an unknown environment a bit easier.”

If helping those in need wasn’t already rewarding enough, Tane loves to talk to people and, more importantly, listen to their stories and experiences. “Most of the people who come in are real characters. One of my favourite stories is a man who hitchhiked all the way from Auckland to Wellington in a week. There is a lot of chatting and small talk that comes with it, but you learn a lot about yourself from them. As cheesy as it sounds, it does actually open your eyes to what is really important in this world.”

Going into his second year of uni, Tane isn’t quite sure yet what the future might hold for him career-wise but he knows he’ll always make time to volunteer to make someone else’s day that little bit brighter.

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