Colleen Grey has been volunteering with New Zealand Red Cross in Napier for 14 years. She has spent most of these years as the coordinator of the Red Cross Shop in Onekawa, which is run by members volunteering with our Napier Branch.

In 2014, Colleen and her husband Gordon decided to move to Wairoa – a town north of Napier which is an hour and a half drive away from the Red Cross Shop. This, however, didn’t hinder her and her husband Gordon from staying in contact with Red Cross, and extending the good work we do in her new-found community.

For the past six years, the couple has been working closely with the Red Cross Shop in Onekawa to distribute some of the shop’s excess of good quality items to people in need. Every time they drive their motor home down to visit Napier, Colleen and Gordon always make sure to stop by the local Red Cross Shop. They pick up bags of usable clothes and homewares that the shop volunteers have packed in bulk, and they gladly transport the collection of items back to their small garage in Wairoa where it gets sorted.

Mary Anne Eyles, a member of New Zealand Red Cross’ Napier Branch says, “To enable Colleen and her team to support their community is humbling and gratifying – it serves a double purpose and allows greater use of donations given to the Red Cross Shop.”

Colleen and some local volunteers in Wairoa sorting the items from the Red Cross Shop in Onekawa.

The couple in Wairoa receives help form other passionate women who volunteer their time to sort and distribute the secondhand items. These local volunteers also use their networks and connections to identify families who would benefit the most from free clothing and homeware. All baby clothes are also washed and given to the maternity clinics in the region for mothers in need.

“It’s wonderful to be able to support our communities and promote Red Cross at the same time,” says Colleen.

To date, this initiative has helped many families not only in Wairoa, but also in Raupunga, Mahia, Waihua, Waikaremoana and, on occasion, further up the East Coast beyond Gisborne. 

About Red Cross Shops

New Zealand Red Cross has over 50 Red Cross Shops across Aotearoa. Our shops offer fabulous pre-loved items – gifted to us by kind Kiwis who wish to support the work in the community – ranging from clothing, homeware and furniture.

We always welcome quality clothing, furniture and homeware donations. Different shops stock different things – take a look at your local shop's page to find out what they accept.