The Riverine Herald spoke to op shop devotee turned volunteer Di Jones for International Volunteer Day today.By Kathleen Tonini
Di Jones has turned her long-held love of the Echuca Salvation Army Second Chance Store into something more meaningful.
Previously a Salvos op shop devotee, Ms Jones has been a volunteer at the shop three days a week for the past eight months.
The Riverine Herald spoke to Ms Jones about her experiences as a volunteer for International Volunteers Day today.
She serves at the front counter and helps sort mountains of clothing, linen and books at the back of the shop.
Ms Jones said volunteering at the shop allowed her to form new friendships and keep in the loop of what was going on in town.
‘‘You just feel like part of the community,’’ she said.
The mainly female volunteers — there are about 18 women who regularly volunteer at the shop — share news over cups of tea and biscuits.
Ms Jones said it was rewarding working in the shop, helping people in need find shoes, jumpers and blankets in winter, and helping people in need fit out their homes.
Sometimes her job means gently giving honest advice about what looks good, she said.
‘‘A lot of people are on their own and they don’t have anyone to help them,’’ she said.
There are a number of regular shoppers, both those who shop for the love of treasure hunting and those who do so because they have no other choice.
‘‘I like the people that come in,’’ Ms Jones said.
‘‘I’m a people person, I love helping people.’’
But the work is not all serious.
Many people come into the shop looking for costumes for dress-up parties or end of year 12 celebrations.
Ms Jones said it was amazing what could be found in the depths of the little shop.
‘‘It’s like an addiction, it is like a little treasure hunt,’’ she said.
Ms Jones said her role as a volunteer had also exposed her to realities of life for some people.
She said many people who camped by the river came in looking for blankets and warm things in winter.
‘‘Not everybody’s got a home,’’ she said.
Sorting through the piles of donations at the back of the shop, Ms Jones said some things were brand new, or as good as new.
‘‘We are a wasteful society,’’ she said.
She is proud of her work at the op shop and encouraged others to get out of their houses and get involved, even if it was only for a few hours.
‘‘It is rewarding doing volunteer work,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s really good.’’
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