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Whitianga supermarket manager goes the extra distance for her community

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Shannon Sibley (left) with a batch of cupcakes.

A Whitianga supermarket manager is drawing on her life experiences to drive several initiatives that make a difference in the community.

Countdown Whitianga store manager and resident Shannon Sibley is making a huge difference to the Coromandel through health-focused awareness and fundraising programmes.

Sibley’s journey to where she is now has not been an easy one.

“I started my career doing trollies in a little town called Waipukarau after school, then fell pregnant.”

Remarkably, after becoming pregnant, Sibley managed to complete high school while also working full-time as a Countdown trolley worker. “And then [after the pregnancy] I came on full-time – and kinda haven’t left!”

Countdown Whitianga produced cupcakes for Mother's Day to aid in getting a mammogram service for the area.
Countdown Whitianga produced cupcakes for Mother’s Day to aid in getting a mammogram service for the area.

Sixteen years later, Sibley has progressed to a Countdown manager, using her position and contacts to give back to the local community in any way she can while enabling her team to do the same.

The manager and her team have raised funds for Project Mammogram. Whitianga is without a mammogram service so they’re trying to procure funds for one so that local women have access to scans and don’t have to make the nearly four-hour round trip to Thames.

“Project Mammogram is something the Whitianga community is doing, and is being led by the Lions ladies,” Sibley said.

“I approached them as I saw an opportunity for a pink fun day, but at that point, another supermarket had just taken it up, so we came up with the idea of pink cupcakes for Mother’s Day [in May]. Cupcakes with raisins were also sold, and ‘Cupcakes for Mother’s Day’ is now a national initiative across Countdown stores.”

The store’s altruism is not limited to the mammogram fundraising. Sibley says they have hired students from Mercury Bay Area School and will be fundraising with them in 2024 for a school trip to Japan.

They have also partnered with food rescue organisations such as Community Services and the Salvation Army.

With the Coromandel being a key summer holiday destination, the Countdown Whitianga store is gearing up for the Christmas break, which means more than double the amount of stock is sold over this period.

The store also donates fresh fruit to a local youth group based in Coromandel Town and delivers donated fruit to the Coromandel Youth Group’s after-school service.

Generous donations have also been greatly received at Whitianga Skate School, and the store helps facilitate a community Christmas lunch in Whitianga, which is expected to be attended by up to 200 people.

Supporting the community is Sibley’s number one priority, and she’ll do anything for her team. Each Christmas she has an open door policy, welcoming any of her team into her home to share Christmas with her family because she wants no one to feel alone on Christmas.

When asked where her passion for helping the people of Whitianga comes from, Shannon Sibley said:

“It’s a beautiful community – how could you say no?”

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