Sisters do their bit
TWICE a week, every week, Maria Hodikin lends a hand at the Salvation Army Shop in Coffs Harbour. She loves it.
"I enjoy the people and the company ? it gets me out and doing something for the community," Maria said.
Maria has been part of the Coffs team almost constantly for 14 years, with only a few breaks for health reasons.
And for the last four months, she has had her sister, Erna Santa, at her side.
Erna arrived as a surprise from Canada in February to support her recently bereaved sister.
"Maria's kids organised everything ? I just hoped she wouldn't have a stroke when I showed up," she said.
"It's been wonderful coming here and spending time in Coffs Harbour. I've met so many friendly people through the Salvation Army.
"As soon as I walked in, I was treated with respect and felt needed.
"I do a lot of charity work at my home in Canada ? I enjoy being with people."
For her sister Maria, being part of the Salvation Army family has to do with her own refugee background.
"When I arrived here in 1945, I only had one box of possessions with me," Ma- ria said.
"Australia has given us a good life and I want to give something back."
Salvation Army Shop director, Margaret Bridgman, said the Salvation Army is always desperate for more hands and having Erna's help over the last few months has been wonderful.
"We've thrown her into all sorts of jobs ? there is always plenty to do.
"There are so many lonely people out there ? we have a family here."