Senior citizens make big bucks for eastern Southland
Voluntary work by a group of senior citizens, many in their 80s, has generated more than $500,000 at a recycling centre in Gore.
Twenty members of the Gore Pakeke Lions Club work at the organisation's recycling centre sorting and baling cardboard, paper and plastic. The bales are sold to OJI Fibre Solutions Ltd in Dunedin.
Most of the sale proceeds are distributed into Eastern Southland communities.
Recycling sales total more than $100,000 annually, club secretary Douglas Dixey says.
The club believes "90 per cent plus" of the bales are exported, with some sent to China.
The club's annual book sale in August, is also a good fundraiser, along with its small sidelines, making and selling walking poles and bull manure.
People arrive at the centre daily dropping off papers, books, DVDs and CDs. Books are sorted into boxes relating to their topic, such as farming, sport and health.
The DVDs and CDs are also sold.
Last year the club chalked up the distribution of $1million of grants and donations since it was founded 30 years ago. Its recycling operation started in 1997.
The club's work was recognised with a worldwide Lions award in March when it received an International President's Certificate of Appreciation. Three years ago the club received a Gore District Civic Award.
A wide range of people, groups and organisations apply for funding.
"They could apply for anything . . . education, children's medical bills, teams going away, swimming lessons for students," Dixey says.
The club last year gave $40,000 towards the construction of St John's new building in Gore. Others in the health sector benefiting from the club's work include Ronald McDonald House in Dunedin and Invercargill.
The Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust is also a recipient.
Each year the club funds 10 scholarships for students at either Gore High School or St Peter's College.
Most months three or four applications are assessed by the club's board.
"We consider any application, but they have to show that they have tried to help themselves.
"It's a small community and you find out if they haven't."
John Falconer and Neil McPhail are convenors of the recycling operation.
"We're all quite proud of what we can achieve here," Falconer says.
"We're proud to support young people in achieving their goals."
Not all of the centre's 20 workers are on site Monday to Friday, but there is always plenty of staff to complete duties.
Russell Thwaites, who has worked at the centre for 15 years, said he liked the camaraderie.
"We all come from different walks of live. It's physical but not heavy work.
"There's no roster . . . you come if you feel like it,"
Some take time off to play bowls and golf.
Trevor Woodrow joked: "It beats staying at home with the wife."
The majority of the centre's workers have farming backgrounds, but others include a retired bricklayer, school teacher, engineer, timber retailer, meat workers and accountants.
"Most of them are also involved in other organisations in the town, like senior citizens," Douglas Dixey said.
The club's two trucks travel around Gore and Mataura picking up cardboard, paper and plastics from 100 destinations. They call into The Warehouse and Countdown and New World supermarkets three times a week.
A new baling press was bought in 2005 with funds from Environment Southland, Mataura Licensing Trust and Gore District Council.
"That was a big step up for us. It allowed us to get more volume of bales," John Falconer says.
Some of the centre's statistics are: the press can put out 500kg bales, about 1600 bales are made annually, seven bales produced most work days and 80 tonnes of recycling material processed monthly.
Cardboard is the main material recycled.
Past president of the club Jim McIntyre likes helping people.
"It's just wonderful what we do here.
"I've always been one to volunteer for anything."
Herbie Clement, who also helps at the centre, retired two years ago from being a salesman at PlaceMakers in Gore.
"I've lived in Gore 37 years and the community's been good to me.
"I wanted to give something back when I retired. Working here is better than sitting at home."
Colleague Stewart Hodges says all of the centre's workers can do different duties.
"[Working here] keeps me fit, gives me something to get up for in the morning.
"We're all giving back to the community we live in . . . it's great."
People wanting to join the club are welcome to make contact, Douglas Dixey says.
"We're always on the lookout for new members.
"Sadly, we've lost five or six member in the last year and a half."
The recycling centre was used previously as an indoor ice skating rink.
Dixey, who joined the club in 2002, was a school teacher for more than 40 years, bowing out when principal of Tapanui Primary School in 2000.
He was a successful runner from the late 1950s to 1970s, winning Southland and national titles. Dixey competed against running greats Peter Snell and Murray Halberg.
As a junior, Dixey won one and two-mile titles in Auckland. He was a track, road and cross-country runner.