After years of being a young consumer of various op shops, I seized the opportunity to volunteer at Vinnies Shop in Brunswick. Stepping through its welcoming doors, I was embraced by a sense of warmth and belonging. The racks and shelves were adorned with an eclectic mix of clothes, shoes and accessories, each item infused with its own unique personality.
Yet, it wasn't just the merchandise that captivated me, it was the genuine, friendly employees and volunteers who dedicate their time, passion, and energy into what they do. It wasn’t just an op shop; it was a haven filled with stories waiting to be told.
My journey began with a deep-seated desire to be part of a community of incredible volunteers committed to uplifting people in need. Throughout the day, I had the privilege of witnessing the kind and warm treatment of customers. Small acts of kindness might seem insignificant, but they can brighten someone's day.
Moreover, customers left the Vinnies Shop not only with beautiful items but also with the knowledge that their purchases were making a positive impact on the community.
From sorting donations to assisting customers; creating eye-catching displays to ensuring the cleanliness of the shop, the volunteers did it all. There were endless ways to make an impact.
Amid the increasing cost of living and climate crisis, I am proud to be both a volunteer and a customer at Vinnies Shops. As a volunteer, I contribute to the groundwork of doing ‘good works’, raising funds for people in need while assisting shoppers find affordable necessities. As a customer, I participate in sustainability efforts by reducing unnecessary clothing waste, giving old items a second chance and love.
If I were to share this volunteer experience with my peers, I would put emphasis on the fact that one person can do so much to contribute to the society. It's a reminder that even small actions, like conscious clothing shopping, can create significant changes in our society.
As I sorted through donations, I spent hours only being able to sort less than one fourth of the donations the shop had received over the prior weekend. I discovered countless beautiful pieces that could easily serve their purpose for another five years or more, and they were all available at affordable prices in Vinnies Shop.
What people may not realise is that what they buy from Vinnies Shops is not merely inexpensive second-hand items, but rather a chance for both the items and people in need to thrive, as the proceeds support our good works. Every purchase is not just a transaction but a step toward creating meaningful change.
I walked out of Vinnies Brunswick not only with invaluable lessons and stories but also some cherished items, including a vintage knitted cardigan and a pair of leather shoes, which I will cherish for the rest of the years ahead. I cannot pinpoint what made me happier – the experience or the delightful items I found. However, I can confidently say that this experience was deeply meaningful and special. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the volunteers who contribute to making positive impact in our society.
Communications Intern, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria