Holly with her puppies who help collect for Blind and Low Vision NZ, Otus and Olive

A collectors story

by Ann van Engelen

Holly Gibson is the Rolleston area coordinator for the Blind and Low Vision — formly the Blind Foundation of New Zealand, as well as the Red Puppy collectors appeals.

“The Blind Foundation was recently renamed to Blind & Low Vision NZ to cover all sight issues as people losing their sight is far more prevalent than what people realise,” says Holly.

“I got involved through a Facebook post asking for volunteers to help collect for guide dogs in Rolleston. I work for Bayleys Real Estate and when I first joined they were a chief sponsor.”

Holly organises rosters ensuring volunteers have the materials they need.

“It is such a nice thing to do as it takes you out of your own world for the day. Even when it is cold you meet lovely people. Some can only afford 20 cents but it all adds up and they are generous within their means and we are grateful for every penny. I use my three labradors when collecting. Dogs seem to make people comfortable and they spend time with them. The Red Puppy Appeal in March was the week after the mosque attacks and people came and hugged the dogs. It is not just about the collecting, it was amazing to know we helped people.” One collector Robert Stewart has been collecting for the Red Puppy Appeal and Blind Week for approximately 15 years.

“Even when it was pouring rain he collects and people smile and trust him.

A dad and his two daughters collected after school to teach them about giving. They were so excited to be responsible to hand out stickers. I highly recommend others try collecting as you are helping other people.

“There are two appeals, October and March, and we schedule around what time volunteers can offer, even just half an hour. You may be the only person someone has spoken to all day and it all makes a difference.”