Edinburgh Tollcross shop volunteer Laura didn’t hesitate to go the extra mile for a good cause. When you’re passionate about something, volunteering can be a great way to put your knowledge into practice! Here’s her story about how a little creative thinking led to a big reward.

“I started volunteering for my local Shelter Scotland charity shop in Tollcross, Edinburgh back in December, just before the Christmas madness. After seeing some slick volunteer recruitment posters in the shop front I decided this was the place for me, and the shop manager Alaric was only too happy to have me on board! In almost no time at all, I’ve taken a step up to being a key volunteer and can usually be found busying away dressing up mannequins, sprucing up our shop front and perfecting our aesthetic. I’m really all about the visual appeal of the shop and we get many compliments on it as a result!

More recently, we were lucky enough to receive essentially the entire contents of our upstairs neighbour’s flat after they unfortunately passed away. Their brother was kind enough to think of Shelter Scotland in what was for them no doubt a very hard time and so we spent the better part of an afternoon carrying box loads of donations into our cellar from upstairs. Four of us coming back and forth was quite a sight! It wasn’t until we started having a good rummage through our newly acquired goodies that we realised we had come into possession of a large number of “Royal Mail collectibles”, including figurines, commemorative stamps, dye cast models and novelty coins. We quickly realised we would be better off evaluating and selling these through a specialist, rather than through the shop, in order to get a wee bit more for our efforts.

I took it upon myself to do a little research, with the help of Google, and soon discovered a promising looking local auctioneer by the name of Tom Brown. I got in touch with him and arranged for him to have a look at what we had on offer and give us an estimate and some advice on the best way to turn our donations into cash. As it turns out, a lot of the collectibles were worth a pretty penny and not only that, but Tom kindly offered to auction our finds with no commission! Tom’s generosity is a fantastic example of the way in which local community members come together to support the good work of a charity like Shelter Scotland! All that it takes is the confidence to ask politely and a sprinkling of charm. Without further ado, my fiancé and I dropped the goods off and left in eager anticipation!

The auction wasn’t until the end of the following month, so when the time came we were more than keen to get the results! Although a few bits and pieces didn’t sell, the majority did, and our patience was finally rewarded with a shiny cheque to the tune of £175. With a well-deserved spring in my step I picked up the cheque with many a thank you to our kind friend Tom, and passed it on to Alaric, who promised to bake me a cake as a thank you (still waiting, Alaric!)

It’s these kinds of extra little ways of helping Shelter Scotland that really emphasise our renewed focus on the community aspect of charity; a local generously donated their late brother’s possessions, which we then managed to transform into the money which Shelter Scotland depends on, with a helping hand from a kind local business owner. Taking the time to step out of our shops and engage with our local community and local businesses really puts us and our message out there, but not only that, it’s great for our bottom line too! I might be “just a volunteer”, but with little effort, I feel like I made a big difference.”

Find out more about how we’re celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2017 and how you can get involved!