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Fantastic fabrics . . . Altrusans (from left) Raewyn Hutton, Heather MacDonald, Glenda Galletly and president Karen Liddy check out some of the fabrics that will be on offer at the annual bazaar. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

by Claire Allison

Fabric finds at the Altrusa Bazaar this weekend will help raise funds to keep a group of South Canterbury people safe.

Altrusa International of Timaru is preparing to hold its popular annual bazaar, selling donated fabric, wool, haberdashery and craft items.

The event – postponed from August because of lockdown – will now be held on Sunday at the Celtic Sports Centre from 10am to 2pm, and this year, funds raised will go towards WanderSearch Canterbury, to buy WanderSearch devices to be distributed in South Canterbury.

WanderSearch supports people living in the community who are at risk of going missing to live healthy, active lifestyles.

The system provides at-risk people with a small device that can be tracked by police and trained volunteers using specialised equipment.

Altrusa member Raewyn Hutton said this year would be the 10th bazaar, and what had started from small beginnings had become a sizeable event.

“It’s quite a social event. People stop us now and ask, ‘When are you having your bazaar?’,” she said.

“It’s become a bit of a feature. People will be queuing up at the door waiting to get in, and some bring big bags with them for their purchases.”

Three months before the bazaar, the club puts out an appeal for donations of fabric and craft items, triggering a cleaning-out and decluttering of stashes of fabrics and craft items.

Club members then hold working bees to measure and price donations, plan a table of treasures and produce a raffle.

In recent years, the bazaar had raised about $3000, which had been given to Alzheimer’s South Canterbury and St John.

However, this year the club had chosen WanderSearch as the beneficiary.

A representative from WanderSearch spoke to Altrusa earlier this year, and members felt it was a worthwhile cause, each device costing $350, Mrs Hutton said.

“We had one or two members who have been affected, with husbands who have wandered, and these things would have been a godsend.”

WanderSearch Canterbury programme manager Linda Rutland said the organisation had only recently become active in Timaru.

It now had two volunteers involved, and nine or 10 devices already in use.

The tracking devices were mostly used for older clients with dementia, or younger clients who had autism.

“We always need more devices, as the programme is evolving.”

She believed 25 would be a good number of the devices for Timaru.

Fundraising meant the devices could be provided free of charge to people who needed them, the only cost then being a small six-monthly fee for them to be refurbished.

They were useful for people with dementia who lived alone and either did not have a cellphone or would not take it with them, and could be tied on in such a way they could not be removed by the wearer.

A diagnosis from a healthcare provider was required for a person to be eligible for a device, and the organisation was still quite low profile, Ms Rutland said.

“A lot of people haven’t known about us, and they only find out about us when it’s too late.”