Mary Ellen Berry is an SOS Thrift Shop Volunteer. National Volunteer Week is April 18-24 and this year the theme is ‘the value of one, the power of many.’ (Lissa Alexander photo)

Mary Ellen Berry is an SOS Thrift Shop Volunteer. National Volunteer Week is April 18-24 and this year the theme is ‘the value of one, the power of many.’ (Lissa Alexander photo)

National Volunteer Week: ‘The value of one, the power of many’

Programs at SOS highlighted April 18-24

By Lissa Alexander

The pandemic is making life difficult in many ways, but Mary Ellen Berry is finding solace in her volunteer role at SOS Thrift Shop.

“It’s kind of saved my sanity because I live alone and I’ve got a pretty small bubble,” she explained.

Berry has been volunteering with SOS for about four years in the Thrift Shop, and in the Christmas program. She said she inquired about volunteering with SOS once she retired, and learned that the Thrift Shop was in need of cashiers.

Berry said she loves working the cash desk. She likes interacting with the customers and said often people purchase items for reasons other than what they were intended, which is always very interesting to her.

Despite the pandemic, Berry said she feels very safe volunteering at the Thrift Shop.

“I have my mask, everybody else is masked, I have the plexiglass, we clean before every customer… so I feel very safe,” she said. The staff is very welcoming and treats everyone with respect, she said.

National Volunteer Week is April 18-24 this year, and the theme at Volunteer Canada is “The Value of One, The Power of Many.”

Volunteer Canada’s website says that the theme “reflects on the awe-inspiring acts of kindness by millions of individuals AND the magic that happens when we work together towards a common purpose.”

Similarly, Berry said she believes that if everyone volunteered for a couple of hours a week, it would make a very positive impact in our community.

READ MORE: Parksville marks volunteer week

“I don’t have a lot of money so I can’t write a big cheque to help the organization, but I can give my time,” she said. “I feel like I’m helping in my way and freeing up the staff to do more important things.”

Before the pandemic, the Thrift Shop provided SOS with about 80 per cent of the funding needed to run its community programs and services. It still plays a very important role in funding the organization, and volunteers play a critical role.

The volunteer program at SOS has been on hold since the beginning of the pandemic, but some existing volunteers have continued in their roles.

SOS is working on restarting the program and welcoming new volunteers. The current areas of need are at the Thrift Shop and delivering Meals on Wheels.

“We are excited to start welcoming some new volunteers to our team shortly,” said co-ordinator of volunteer resources, Heather Jones.

Jones said volunteers will go through training to ensure they are confident and comfortable with the new safety procedures and protocols.

Thrift Shop volunteer roles include working at the cash desk, tagging merchandise, and stocking shelves. Meals on Wheels drivers deliver packaged food around District 69, and get reimbursed for gas mileage.

Residents who are interested in volunteering in these roles can contact Heather at 250-248-2093 ext. 230, or email her at Alternatively, residents can fill out the volunteer inquiry form on the SOS website. For more information about SOS, visit

SOS is currently running Project Rebuild campaign to “Reach more and Do more” in our community. For more information on the plan, and how to get involved, visit

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