A Day Spent Auntying With The Aunty-In-Charge

Yesterday was a big donations pick up day. I asked a friend, Blair, if he would come and help me. And then I asked him if he'd write about it, in an effort to make other people maybe think about doing it too. These are his words (and I didn't pay him, I promise).

Jackie Clark is technically the liaison, advocate and founder of The Aunties but really, she is just a force of nature with a mind like a steel trap, a huge heart and the irrepressible gift of the gab. She is also great company so when she indicated she was doing a charity goods pickup, I offered to help. Not out of a sense of obligation but because I knew we’d have fun.

Jackie has a little car and I have a larger wagon so I became the driver. My first pick up was Jackie, and then we were off! Eight pickups across greater Auckland. Jackie had another prized possession firmly in her left hand, a new phone, and she immediately put it to good use activating the GPS navigator. The car was filled with banter as the three of us chatted, organised and directed. Two human voices were competing for airspace with a bossy electronic third that repeatedly ordered us to; ‘Take the first exit at the roundabout’.

Jackie soothed and gently mollified the digital harridan as you would a toddler having a tantrum while she simultaneously provided firm directional hand signals to the other, slightly flustered, human occupant. We reach our first destination.

It was clear from the onset that Jackie had prepared the groundwork. Precise instructions on what was acceptable had been delivered and received. Bags were waiting at doors, neatly organised and their contents labelled. These specific instructions were reiterated along with hugs and kisses with the donor. I was offered a welcome coffee and so began a pattern for the day; The items were quickly and efficiently packed into the car within a minute, a beverage offered and a conversation started.

I listened with fascination as interesting people talked on a variety of topics with passion and flair. Jackie can talk and does so but she is also a wonderful listener and responded ably and knowledgeably to whatever topic was under discussion. A wide scope of topics was covered and the way of things dissected with gusto. I listened and learned. I drank my coffee. There was always time before leaving for Jackie to engage with the children, admire a treasured pet/home/piece of art/panoramic view and cuddle a child, pet or both. Less than an hour at each stop would have just been rude!

The playful driving conversational tri-play would then continue as we entered unexplored parts of West Auckland. More pick ups were completed, more lovely people met for the first time. More hugs from Jackie as we left and hand shakes proffered to me. The wagon was filling and so was my bladder after the diuretic effects of multiple cups of coffee. Jackie showed her experience at each stage by declining the offer. Still, tummies were grumbling and it was time to eat.

Three more pickups in the afternoon and we were done. There was no more space in the wagon. It was time to head for home.

The wagon was unpacked into a storage locker. Jackie thanked me again and impressed on me that she wouldn’t have been able to do it without me. I doubt that, having had some insight into her determination and resourcefulness, but I was happy to help and quite honestly, I got more out of helping than she would know. It really was a fun day and it flew by.

People were extraordinarily generous with their donations, time and company. They, for the most part, assiduously followed packing instructions and we were always welcomed in. While we shared plenty of laughs, like when we almost packed a donor’s refuse into the car or when a peacock was spotted posing like a weather-vain on a neighbour’s roof, what left the biggest impression of the day was the love on display. Love from the donors for the people of Auckland in need and love for Jackie and what she does. I was very proud to have helped today and so I’ve decided to help out again whenever Jackie needs me to… or did Jackie decide that… I’m slightly unclear.

Anyway, it was great fun and such a rewarding experience.

Thank you Jackie, all the Aunties and the generous donors of Auckland. I had a blast.

Blair Mckinnon


Gratitude 2016.

What the Aunties Did: Jan, Feb 2017