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December 5 was adopted as International Volunteer Day by the United Nations in 1985 to promote volunteer contributions to development at local, national and international levels.
In Queenstown, the Citizens Advice Bureau is staffed from 9.30am to 4.30pm every week day by volunteers. A volunteer for nine years, Kathy Buckham said volunteering was rewarding and a great way to ''meet the locals''.
''It's very rewarding when you help someone ... when someone comes in in tears and we help them out, it's very worthwhile."
Mr. Buckham became involved with volunteering after ''a friend talked me into it when I retired''.
It was ''good to give something back''.
She had experience in law offices which helped but said comprehensive training was given to volunteers when they started.
She is now training a new generation of volunteers.
Volunteering Central links volunteers with organisations in the Central Lakes district and this week it is encouraging all volunteer managers to stop and thank their volunteers. Central Lakes volunteers help a diverse range of causes such as restoring native habitats, contributing to wildlife breeding programmes, assisting people facing personal challenges, keeping emergency and rescue services in operation, fundraising, recycling, and assisting at arts, cultural and community events.
Mr. Buckham said while she loved volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau, there were ''a whole lot of other worthwhile places that need volunteers''.
''There's an awful lot of professional people in this town with a lot of time to give back. I would hate to stop.
"People interested in volunteering can contact Volunteering Central at, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (03) 443-1699."