Daffodil Day has been marked on Willie Donnelly’s calendar for the past 15 years – at a guess.

It is a day that means many things to many people.

For Mrs Donnelly it is a chance to bring volunteers together to help raise much-needed money for the Cancer Society.

The group covers Alexandra, Clyde, Poolburn and Omakau, ensuring everyone in outlying areas gets a chance to give to the cause if they want to.

Collectors visit the town’s hotels and base themselves at various locations, including Alexandra’s Mitre 10, which has supported the group year after year, providing vouchers to raffle off.

“It’s just what people do,” she said, of the Mitre 10 example.

“It’s quite special. We ask for nothing except that we can sit outside their places.”

Mrs Donnelly has, just this year, retired as the area’s Daffodil Day co-ordinator, a role that has been taken on by Judy Guise.

However, that did not mean Mrs Donnelly was hanging up her hat.

She is still actively involved with the organisation at a local level, helping raise money through a range of avenues, including raffles and the annual street appeal.

Like many people, she volunteers because she can and to give back to an organisation that has benefited some of her friends and family.

“We’ve had cancer through my family so, of course, I know what it feels like and so many friends [have been affected].”

In some cases, it was one of the few ways people could support friends who were going through cancer because they were not able to visit due to the risk of infection.

Mrs Donnelly said many volunteers were supporting the cause for the same reason.

“All the volunteers, I would say, have had a connection with cancer, either through friends or family. I would think that’s what every single one of them would have in common.”

She said one of the group’s most loyal supporters was Joan Jopson, who Mrs Donnelly describes as one of the group’s “originals”.

“She still sits every year at one of the stations. She’s been so loyal, right from the start.”

Money raised by the group goes to the Cancer Society’s Otago Southland branch, benefiting “the little things”, which can make a big difference, such as fuel vouchers to help people get to their cancer care appointments.


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