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There would be no Tauranga Community Foodbank without the loyal volunteers who give up their time each week to help those struggling to scrape by.

The organisation relies on about 37 volunteers, who give their time regularly.

Len Clough is 79 and has worked at the Foodbank since it started 24 years ago. He enjoys the company of the other volunteers. His best memory is receiving a thank you letter from someone who was grateful to have received a food parcel.

Off the back of the launch of the 2014 Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal to raise money for the foodbank, today we begin a series of volunteer profiles to put faces behind the work the organisation does.

Chairman Alan Plunkett said volunteers were “essential” as the charity would not function without them.

“We don’t have the type of funds to spend on wages. [Volunteers] are absolutely essential,” he said. “We couldn’t run it without them.”

Volunteers were responsible for managing the store room, stocking the shelves, packaging bulk items into smaller containers, going out to pick up donations and putting together food parcels.

The volunteers were responsible for more than just keeping the place running though, Mr Plunkett said.

“When they take the parcels out, they’ve got to say, ‘Hello, how are you?’ There are a lot of heads down when they come in and we want them to go out with a smile.”

With Christmas approaching, the foodbank would be looking for a few students who could help with the heavy lifting, he said.

Len Clough, the longest serving volunteer, has been helping out for 24 years.

Manager Nicki Goodwin and administrator Jo Harrington share the one paid role required to keep the charity running. Funds for the position come from a Lotteries Commission grant.

Mrs Goodwin said there were five volunteers rostered on each day and one driver responsible for picking up donations around the city.