Why would you not?

Volunteer that is! It’s all a big plus as far as I’m concerned and I’ve been doing it for 20 years here in the Algarve – from helping set up the first charity shop for the Algarve’s animal protection association APAA in Montechoro to Castelo de Sonhos (charity supporting the underprivileged) in Silves and Guia’s animal support association AAG.

For the last two years I’ve been volunteering with an organisation called REFOOD but I’ll come back to that later. First the reasons why.

Most important is the “feel good” factor, the idea of making a small contribution to a cause which will make a difference, however small, to something that appeals to your own set of values. 

Also, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people, whether it’s over the counter at a charity shop or elbow to elbow in a soup kitchen. 

Although it’s fair to say that a lot of the volunteers I’ve worked with are from the “expat community”, I have been able, through contact with local people, to improve my Portuguese language. 

As the local people have grasped the concept of charity shops, more and more have come forward to help and form a large part of the customer base.  

Another bonus has been the number of friends I have made of different nationalities, whom I may not have otherwise encountered. 

Volunteering doesn’t have to be a big commitment, although that is an important word when deciding to do it. 

Even if you are an expat who comes and goes on a regular basis, you could be called on in an emergency or on an ad-hoc basis. 

So, back to my commitment to REFOOD, which is basically two hours a week in a kitchen environment, packing food for families in need.

I’m sure you’ve heard various statistics quoted about the amount of food wasted in developed countries from cabbages ploughed back into the field to wholesale dumping by supermarkets when food is at its sell-by date, and not least in our own kitchens. 

Well, REFOOD is a national organisation working to reduce food-waste by collecting “left-overs” from restaurants, and products to be discarded by supermarkets and other food outlets.

Two hours a week might involve collecting the food stuffs, packing them in the kitchen or delivering to a collection point for the families who benefit from this process. We all recognise there are a lot of needy families out there. 

My unit is based in Algoz so if you can help or would like more information about joining us, please contact my volunteers supervisor, Margarida, on 934 004 583 or call me on 289 562 395. 

However, if volunteering is not for you but you would like to help in some way, we would be happy to receive donations of non-perishable food items to help out when there is not enough fresh food available to feed our families. Alternatively, you could make a financial donation – [email protected]

Christine Holmes
By email