When Save the Children New Zealand made the decision to close all its gift shops throughout New Zealand in August 2015 the Waikato Branch’s gift shop also planned to close its doors. After discussion and meetings between the volunteers it was decided in December 2015 to form a new charitable trust namely Achieving Change for Children Charitable Trust (ACCCT), so that the trust could continue to operate a gift shop independent of Save the Children New Zealand.
ACCCT opened its new gift shop in March 2016 and was called The Welcome Swallow Gift Shop and Gallery as a tribute to a pair of Swallows nesting under the back door porch roof. Despite constant disturbances of people coming and going, the Swallows returned every year to raise their young. Over time they quickly became part of our own story that underlined the importance of ‘welcoming’ our customers into the shop.
The shop quickly established a new range of products that included a wide variety of gifts: Ulster Weavers’ Irish linen William Morris t-towels, colourful and durable aprons, a wide range of made in New Zealand Manuka Honey skin care products including Pacifica, Kiri and Wild Ferns, Pure Born Organics baby wear, Wildside gifts with fauna and flora designs by New Zealand artists including colourful tiles, a variety of bags and tea towels; velvet and cotton tote bags, delicately embroidered, Italian designed handkerchiefs, home-made preserves, quality gift cards, pretty stationery, hand knitted baby wear and much more.
Over time the shop expanded its available space to incorporate a small gallery with exhibitions every six weeks. In addition to regular exhibitions various artists remain as artists in residence. The shop also sells art prints and art cards on behalf of these artists.
A significant and growing part of our story has been to extend the space to incorporate a larger gallery to showcase the work of local artists and artisans. An important part of our work is to promote the work of local artists who have much to offer in the way of artistry. In this way the scope of our story includes building a vibrant addition to the community of Hamilton East.
Neither the Shop Manager nor the volunteers are paid. This was a decision made at the very beginning when the gift shop was first established. It was important for everyone involved that the volunteers carry on the philosophy of charitable trusts that tend to only use volunteers to operate their services and shops. This was and still remains our distinct difference as all our net profits are donated to Waikato based charitable organisations that support children.
ACCCT raises money through gift shop profits including art sale commissions and fundraising endeavours including raffles and a quiz night to support local children’s charities in the Waikato region.
The final part of our story is the fantastic team of volunteers who continue to put in thousands of hours for such a great cause – helping children. The Trust relies on the goodwill and generosity of the volunteers and they work tirelessly to support children. They also value their customers and look forward to seeing them in the store continuing to support children’s charities in the Waikato.