Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas Wrapping with Linda and Joan

Volunteers wrap presents at Greenville Mall
“Hello, this is Joan Pollock from the Humane Society.”

If you’re a volunteer for HSEC, you’ve probably gotten at least one call from Joan Pollock. And you’ve probably found yourself telling Joan that you’d be happy to fill whatever volunteering opportunity she’s phoning about. Joan just has that effect on people.

“Blame it on Joan,” says Linda Anselmi, who has been involved as a volunteer with HSEC for eight years. It was Joan who first got Linda involved with the fundraising committee, of which both women are members. Linda and Joan, along with Stella Strickland and Sylvia Harrison, coordinate the gift wrapping fundraiser held annually at Greenville Mall.

Linda and Joan do much of the on-site work, with Joan generally on the day shift and Linda there during the evening. They are joined by an army of volunteers, including students from Arendell Parrott Academy in Kinston, ECU students, and - for the first time this year - members of the Greenville Newcomers Club. General HSEC volunteers also assist with gift wrapping, and “we drag all our friends out too,” Joan says. The amused gleam in her eye indicates that she’s not speaking purely metaphorically.

Historically, gift wrapping has often been the year’s largest fundraiser for HSEC, though in recent years it is second behind Canine Crawl. The mall has always been exceptionally generous in providing space and support for the fundraiser. Major thanks for this must be given to Nathan Kelly, the mall manager, who is also an HSEC volunteer.

Wrapping began this year on December 3rd and continued through Christmas Eve. This year Greenville Mall sponsored the first Saturday of gift wrapping by paying for all wrapping which occurred on that day.

The scene at the gift wrapping table is generally frenetic, especially close to Christmas.  Many of the volunteers are young, though a cross section of the community is also represented. “People seem to like the service,” Linda says, adding that they often see repeat customers. For shoppers, it’s a nice way to check a chore off the Christmas to-do list as well as donate to a worthy cause.

HSEC has run the wrapping booth for at least ten years, taking the area over from a professional wrapping operation. And Joan has been involved with wrapping since the beginning. When asked how long she’s been a volunteer for HSEC, she frowns and says, “longer than I can remember.”

Joan has always had dogs - “I told my parents they followed me home,” she says, laughing. She started to help with the dogs before HSEC had a facility, then began fostering. Her speciality was puppies, and she estimates that she’s fostered over one hundred dogs. Slowly she became more involved with HSEC, eventually serving as a
Joan (center, in black sweater) with volunteers
board member for a time.

Like Joan, Linda gradually found herself taking on more opportunities with HSEC. Linda became aware of the organization through her involvement with a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) rescue group. Her family owns two Shelties. Linda decided to devote more of her volunteering energy to local causes, and began volunteering for HSEC. Her favorite fundraiser is the book sale, which she and Joan are also involved with coordinating. When she’s not volunteering, she enjoys writing.

Joan also has hobbies outside of her work with HSEC, most notably her love of travel. She recently returned on a Mediterranean cruise and is planning trips to Arizona and China. After another successful gift wrapping fundraiser, Joan and Linda have both earned a little time to relax.

A version of this article appeared in the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina’s quarterly newsletter. If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, please contact

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Volunteers like Joan are such treasures. :)