INSPIRING: Veronica Ohl with one of her 300 shoeboxes to be sent around the world to children in need.
INSPIRING: Veronica Ohl with one of her 300 shoeboxes to be sent around the world to children in need. Luka Kauzlaric

Coles worker takes on second job to help charity

VERONICA Ohl knows nothing else but to give, and now she has been forced to receive.

Ms Ohl has worked at Coles for 27 years and recently was awarded the Coles Community Hero for Central Queensland, after being recognised for her inspiring charity work.

For 20 years, Ms Ohl has filled shoeboxes with presents for Operation Christmas, an initiative of the Samaritans Purse.

What started as only a few shoeboxes a year grew into 267 last year and 300 this year.

Ms Ohl said her charity work left her with no spare time, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"I work full-time for Coles. I am on my own now, so when I decided to do this in such large quantities I needed another job," she said.

"I have to work two jobs but that doesn't matter. It just makes me feel privileged to be able to live in Australia."

The shoeboxes are filled with something to love, something to play with, something for personal hygiene, something for school, something special and something to wear.

Each shoebox costs Ms Ohl about $25, which is about $7500 in total.

Not only did Ms Ohl win the award, she also receives $300 in gift cards and 40 hours of paid leave.

Ms Ohl plans to spend that free time packing the boxes.

"My daughter, who is a doctor in Townsville, is actually having the week off to pack boxes with me," she said.

"My living room is now full of boxes, this is not a once-a-year thing, I work at it all year."

Ms Ohl's charity work is not restricted to 300 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas.

"I lend money to a charity that gives micro loans to disadvantaged people overseas," she said.

"I have six loans outstanding at the moment and when they are paid off, I find another person to loan the money to.

"I donate to Canteen and ReCreation Foundation every month and also help out the local RSPCA, Foster Carers and the Red Cross."

Coles Gladstone manager Tony Shaw said it was inspiring to have Ms Ohl on his staff.

"She is so dedicated, I really appreciate it," he said. "She is just fantastic, just such a great role model to have."

In Ms Ohl's true charitable nature, she chooses not to seek recognition from those who receive her shoe boxes, but is happy she can help.


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