Volunteer Voice - "The volunteering environment is about kindness" - Jasper

Jasper standing in front of a green Kiwi harvest truck

Jasper Mooij from the Netherlands is happily evolving into a Kiwi bloke. “I meet my mates at the pub and love a good barbie. But I draw the line at wearing stubbies,” he laughs.

Now enjoying life in Queentown Jasper’s commitment to the Kiwi way of life goes beyond the superficial. Like many Kiwis he places volunteering high on his list of priorities. “My volunteering gives me exposure to the realities of life in this community and in just a few hours a week I can feel like I’m helping someone I don’t even know.”

Jasper volunteers for the local branch of food rescue charity KiwiHarvest. Its mission is twofold - to prevent food waste and to redistribute unwanted food to those with a genuine need.

Driving the distinctive green KiwiHarvest truck Jasper collects perfectly good surplus food from local supermarkets and food retailers and delivers it to organisations around Queenstown and Cromwell including the Salvation Army and Happiness House. They ensure it gets to people in the community who need it.

He says “It’s not helping people in the holding their hands kind of way. The receivers of the food are anonymous to us. It's helping indirectly and ensures the food goes to the right places.” The need in those places has never been greater.

Jasper says it was a good childhood growing up in the Netherlands but he always knew he would travel the world. After working all over Europe for an environmental drilling company, he left to backpack for two years around Australia and New Zealand.

Then, like a lot of people visiting Queenstown, he got ‘stuck’- in the best possible way. He and his Fen enjoy the outdoor lifestyle here - mountain biking, snowboarding and hiking. “We will never stop loving the mountains, the lakes and the views.”

Jasper’s desire to volunteer comes from a place of deep personal experience. As a young man his father was very ill and he had to grow up fast. Helping others became a natural and guiding principle in his life. “I had to pull my weight within the family and not just think about myself.” He is grateful for the perspective he gained from this.

Jasper learnt about the role at KiwiHarvest through a friend at Happiness House (the local family support charity) where he also volunteers his time. Due to work commitments he is mostly available over the winter months and he says that the flexibility of the role means he can drop in and out as time permits. “It's a few hours out of my week that can make a big difference to someone.”

Jasper encourages people to view volunteering through the lens of kindness. “The volunteering environment is about kindness - both to others and to yourself. You aren’t judged if you have to miss a shift or if you spend a little longer chatting to people. Everyone is just grateful for your time.”

What would he say to others considering volunteering? “Give it a go. If it’s not right the first time, try other things. You will never regret finding the right volunteer role.”

Written by Juliette Hicks, 2023