There is a legion of unsung heroes in our midst. Its members are not as numerous as the ‘ladies in black’, and no-one’s made a movie about them, but they are in retail. Recycling, is their business. Moreover, way before the phrase was coined, they’ve been ‘environmentally aware’. Their blue and white ‘hands’ logo symbolises goodwill and their slogan is ‘Good Works’. Who are they? I’m referring to the multitude of St Vincent de Paul volunteers who proudly wear a Vinnie’s apron: The Ladies (and Blokes) in Blue.
The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in 1833 by 20 year old Parisian student, Frederic Ozanam. Since then, this lay Catholic organization has spread worldwide and continues to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people, regardless of their cultural, religious or political beliefs. How? The Society ‘rescues’ donated items; sells them at low prices through Vinnies stores; then uses the revenue to fund community services and programmes. Rescue, re-sell and re-use. Re-cycling at its best. Beavering away in 630 stores throughout Australia, 58,000 Vinnie’s volunteers are doing good works in their local areas. Monday’s team at Vinnie’s in Baulkham Hills, consists of Dale, Mary, Catherine and Suzanna. This band of Hills residents has been volunteering for a long time; Dale and Suzanna for 9 years, Catherine 5, and Mary 2. Every week they don their blue aprons and set about unpacking, tidying – and selling – Vinnie’s range of pre-loved accessories, homewares, books, furniture, CD’s and DVDs etc. Racks of clothing (exclusive, one off donations) occupy half their floor space and as in any Aladdin’s cave, there are gems to be found!
As ever, donations remain the cornerstone of Vinnie’s good works so, if you’re holding fast to things which never see the light of day, set them free! What about the outfit that’s just too – whatever? And the killer shoes not worn because they really are – killers?) Donate those pre-loved items to Vinnies! Reclaim your storage space and generate goodwill! If you loved those things, someone else would love to love them too. And in the words of Frank Sinatra’s 1960 song,
‘… Love is just as lovely, the second time around.’