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A volunteering Vezina gets bazaar this holiday season I’LL TRY ANYTHING ONCE!

160 luncheons prepared, and they're still smiling. L to R: Mary Turner, Ruth Bates, Heather Conolly, Jan Goodman, Betty Crichton and Diane Gray. Photo by Karli Vezina.

160 luncheons prepared, and they’re still smiling. L to R: Mary Turner, Ruth Bates, Heather Conolly, Jan Goodman, Betty Crichton and Diane Gray. Photo by Karli Vezina.

In the everyday hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get lost in your own world. Often it isn’t until the holidays roll around that many begin to consider ways to help out and volunteer their time. When people think of volunteering, they may think of the mandatory community hours they or their children had to complete to graduate from high school. Others may consider the Canadian Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, or Habitat for Humanity where disaster relief sometimes takes you out of your own backyard and into other countries where help is needed most.

But what if you prefer to volunteer locally and make a personal difference? Where do you start? I had this exact thought when I first moved to Leaside and wanted to get involved with my new community. When I Googled “volunteer in Leaside,” not much came up. It hit me then that this was the first time, as an adult, that I had wanted to volunteer my time somewhere and didn’t know where to go. Now that curiosity had taken over, I became more determined than ever to volunteer somewhere in Leaside.

And what better time than the holiday season? I learned about St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church Christmas Fair on Nov. 12 from a friend and thought that would be a great place to lend a hand. I went to a few Christmas bazaars in my youth, and was filled with fond memories.

I made my way to the church on the day before the bazaar to help set up. I spent my time meeting other volunteers and finding a spot where I could be useful. I ended up in kitchenwares and began tagging and pricing with my mentor for the weekend, Linda. We had a few laughs trying to figure out what certain strange vintage kitchen items had been used for back in the day. Once our work was done, we parted ways to rest up for the big event the next morning.

On Saturday I arrived to a long line of dedicated hunters on a mission for a good find. A thrift shop lover myself, I could feel the spark of adventure in the air and understood that we all shared the joy of finding a modern day treasure. Moving to the front of the line, I assumed my “battle station” position in kitchenwares.

“Nine minutes!” was heard throughout the building. People would be streaming in and we had to be ready. I was excited to see what people chose and wondered who would be there. Let me tell you, it felt like I met half of Leaside! It was a whirlwind of three hours as the first wave rolled onto the next. Linda, Colin, Barb and I staffed the kitchenwares station with diligence. I was packing, wrapping, making change and having a blast. I was also treated to the wonderful lunch that was sold to patrons and enjoyed every last bite of that handmade meal. It seemed like a blur of jackets and shopping bags until it was over. We all cleaned our respective areas, packed up what was left and said goodbye.

The event I chose for volunteering is bi-annual, but for those who want to volunteer on a more regular basis outside of church, consider this: Try your local hospitals, veterinary clinics, libraries, schools, retirement homes or even police division (yes, really!). Keep an eye out for community bulletin boards or even a Facebook community group if you’re online and looking to volunteer. Whether it’s the festive season that’s inspired you or it’s just you being you, cheers to all the volunteers out there in Leaside and all over.

Until next time…for science!