Op Shops have long been an important part of many Parishes. Once just the source of affordable clothing for the community, Op Shops have now become a multi-focused place.
There are always bargains to find, it’s somewhere to help the environment by recycling unwanted goods, and more often now a safe place for anyone to connect with a friendly face and have a chat. Through the challenges of 2020 and the COVID pandemic it has become more apparent just how important that is with many people asking, ‘when are you going to be able to open again, I miss you!’
Important also is the multitude of extra benefits for the communities that flow from the Op Shops. In Bungendore Parish the village Captains Flat now has a wonderful Op Shop in the unused church. What a great way to connect with the community and create some fun. Initially they had a coffee machine and served customers on Saturdays. They now connect with The Men’s Shed drop in morning and have donated the coffee machine to them, as well as supplying the coffee beans and eggs for their bacon and egg rolls each week. All this creates a huge excitement for this small community and brings in many outsiders to join in the fun. Of Course Phil’s Emporium Op Shop at Bungendore continues their involvement in a multitude of activities at the church and in the community. Both of these Op Shops use their income to give back to continue their work in the community and involve many who have no other connection with the church.
At Young Parish their regular yearly donations to community support groups shows their generosity and connection with the wider community. This parish, like so many others, have dwindling numbers of volunteers and are thankful for the community volunteers who help at St John’s Op Shop and feel connected to the church and community in this way. This year Reverend Neil Percival was pleased once again to present cheques to representatives from Young Crisis Accommodation Centre, Riding for the Disabled, the Hospital Auxiliary, Fund-raising for Motor Neurone Disease, the Young Community Hub and Young Special Religious Education, all from funds raised from their huge number of donations received weekly. Young also hold regular books and toy sales in the Parish Hall which bring large numbers from the community to the church.
Sapphire Surprises at Eden is an Op Shop but also the home of Emergency Relief for the area. Such an important way for the small church to support the wider community. Again many volunteers are not regular church goers but are totally committed to giving their time to help and be involved in this way.
Mary’s Market at Calwell started in the church building and is now in the thriving shopping centre thanks to the generosity of the centre management. Church in the market place!
All of the Op Shops in the Diocese have similar stories of community involvement. Many Parishes rely on the income from their humble Op Shops to cover general expenses. What would happen to these Parishes without the Op Shop serving up Christian values to the community?
The generosity flowing from the church Op Shops, the Volunteers and church community is a fabulous way to extend the church from regular services to people who may have no other connection to the church. Let’s all get behind them in some small way to ensure they continue the fabulous work of Op Shops for many years to come.
by Kaye Pritchard
Anglicare Parish Partnerships Retail Coordinator
We have produced a flyer of Op Shops in the Diocese, which you can download at the bottom of this page.