Octacan volunteer celebrating 10 years

Octacan volunteer Sharna Milner, of Wakari, is celebrating 10 years of collecting cans.PHOTO:...
Octacan volunteer Sharna Milner, of Wakari, is celebrating 10 years of collecting cans.PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Bringing a cheerful smile and a can-do attitude, Sharna Milner has been volunteering at Presbyterian Support Otago’s Octacan event for 10 years.

She has become a familiar face for many at the annual food drive, where members of the local community are encouraged to give cans and non-perishable food to replenish the Family Works food bank.

Mrs Milner said she enjoyed greeting people in the Octagon and helping collect cans.

Last year she added a sense of fantasy, dressing up as the Star Wars character Chewbacca as she entertained the locals, and she was considering donning the costume again this year.

In previous years, Mrs Milner had spent time encouraging local business to give, travelling along George St with a shopping trolley to collect cans from stores and offices.

"I feel like giving my time and energy is my way of helping."

Mrs Milner was good at spotting if people arrived in the Octagon with their cans looking a little lost about what to do.

She would greet them and thank them for their donation, directing them to the right drop-off point for each type of can.

"I find it really enjoyable," she said.

One of the highlights was when a contingent from King’s High School arrived, often with a flatbed truck piled high with cans, Mrs Milner said.

"I love it when that truck comes round the corner," she said.

Other schools including Otago Boys’ High School and Taieri College were regular contributors, she said.

Mrs Milner said she explained to people how their donations would be distributed as food parcels to people needing them.

She said it was important to thank people for their donations.

Donations did not need to be big to make a difference.

"Can you imagine if everyone in Dunedin gave one can ... that would be amazing."

Presbyterian Support Otago Octacan fundraising events and volunteer co-ordinator Jasmin Enright said this year the canned food drive would take place on Thursday, July 1, in the lower Octagon.

"We are holding Octacan on the eve of the rising of Matariki, marking the Maori new year, which is traditionally when harvested crops would have been shared," she said.

"This was a time when we gather and secure food for those in our community who are grappling with the impact of hardship, and find they need the support of our Family Works foodbank, which is Dunedin’s busiest."

Cans collected during Octacan will be provided to local families facing food hardship.

Visit www.octacan.org.nz for details and to give.

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