September 27, 2023

A Day in the Life of……Debbie Mills

a KAR volunteer


Kim Betts brings us the story of Kar volunteer, Debbie Mills……
Kyrenia Animal Rescue (KAR)…..

Why I chose to become a volunteer:

Take your pick
Take your pick

It was the Christmas bazaar of 2012. I bumped into Anne, who showed my daughter and I some Cuban jewellery made out of cutlery. Then we got to talking. She told us of how another KAR shop was opening in Karakum, and how it was going to be called Glad Rags. Of course, the first thought that came to mind was Rod Stewart, followed by a vision of stacks and stacks of grubby, second hand clothes in a dark room. But Anne’s vision was much different: she was imagining a shop filled with quality, reasonably priced apparel – second hand, yet not worn out. And she was asking for volunteers.

My family and I had lived in Cyprus a year and, coming from a country where the sight of an ownerless dog was a rare occurrence, the stray animal situation upset and shocked us very much. I wanted to help, yet I wasn’t sure how. So I grabbed the chance to make the animal’s lives a little more comfortable with both hands, and said ‘yes’.

My average Thursday:

I arrive at the shop at about nine thirty in the morning, carrying various bags full of clothes that I’d taken home to wash.  A major part of my work is opening and sorting through people’s discarded clothes and sundries, and the biggest surprises are waiting behind the glass doors of Glad Rags. You never know what’ll be there. A box full of puppies could be tucked away in the corner, waiting to be taken up to the centre, and in the office, which is situated at the front of the building, more often than not Kim, with her wealth of knowledge, is advising someone regarding pet travel or making a report on an abandoned dog.

Call me superstitious, but generally, it’s the beginning of my day that determines how the rest of it’ll go.

Bags galore
Bags galore

The shop is normally quiet when I arrive, so I head past the front desk to the back room. It is here that the hardest work takes place, but it all depends on how many donations have accumulated over the week. Sometimes when I cast my eye over to the donations corner, it is almost as if the roof has opened in my absence and the clouds have rained black bags.

It would be easy to get disheartened by the sight if you hadn’t been through an even bigger deluge, or hadn’t opened a donation bag before and experienced the fluttery feeling of being allowed to see somebody’s discarded wardrobe.

We hunt through the pile with the hope and ruthlessness of pirates on a trail for treasure. Although you can open bag after bag of mouldy dirty items (and sometimes feel like you are losing the will to live), every bag needs sorting through because although there may be nothing suitable in the top of the bag there may just be a hidden treasure underneath.

Everything we find is eligible in at least one of four loose piles:

Glad Rags: The things we put in this pile are always of a high standard, and have been visibly worn very little or not at all.

Shop: The things that do not fit the Glad Rags criteria and, although are still good, are not eligible for Glad Rags, are sent to the KAR Charity shop in Girne.

Softies: Softies are things that are not suitable for sale in either shop but can be made use of up at the centre, mainly as bedding for the animals or maybe toys for the animals. They can be an old jumper or a pair of old trainers or socks.

Rubbish:  Although we try to make use of everything, sometimes you have no choice but to throw something away, for instance an odd high heeled shoe or stained underwear.

So all in all we try to make use of everything that people so kindly donate.

The shop can get quite busy and the office staff  have a bell to alert us when a customer enters the shop. Some days you can be up and down like a yo-yo from sorting room to shop.

Debbie Mills
Sally another KAR volunteer searching for a bargain for a customer

The Glad Rags team of ladies are always willing to help you find whatever it is you are looking for. If you fail to find something suitable on the rails in the shop we will search through the items in the sorting room until, hopefully, we can find you whatever it is you are looking for or if not, send you in the direction of the KAR Charity shop in town.

We meet some lovely people in the shop and the majority of them are pleasant and easy to deal with, however you do meet the odd grumpy or awkward one. For instance the lady who couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t swap a bag of junk jewellery for a nice Per Una necklace, which didn’t exactly comply with the fact that we are a charity shop and not a swap shop!

Or spending an hour with someone trying to find a bra to fit her when in the end I found her three nearly new, perfectly fitting bra’s and then realised she expected to buy all three for 5TL.

We are always looking for volunteers in both Charity shops and I would thoroughly recommend this as a way of helping the homeless animals of Northern Cyprus.

Editors Note: 

Many of our local readers will have already met some of the ladies who kindly help out in one of the 3 KAR shops (Girne No 1 shop, House and Home, Glad Rags) – without them all, I am sure everyone will agree, The KAR shops would not be able to run as well as they do.

If you would like to volunteer or have any unwanted items to donate then please call KAR on 0533 8694098

KAR header logo

For more information about Kyrenia Animal Rescue please click here to visit our web site.

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