The South Australian community and Lutheran Care supporters have dug deep into their wardrobes, spare rooms, cupboards, garages and sheds, to come to the aid of Lutheran Care’s and Elcies Op Shops.
In late July, Lutheran Care issued an urgent appeal as donations slowed to virtually nothing. Eighteen large storage cages at our Blair Athol Op Shop Distribution Centre, which are usually brimful with donations, were sitting entirely empty. A sight that had never been seen by our teams before.
Due to the unprecedented demand for our Emergency Relief program and the high turnover of sales in all our stores, we quickly found ourselves with limited quantities of winter stock. This demand for ER and second hand goods has accelerated during the current cost of living and housing crisis, as more people seek assistance from our services.
In an amazing show of community support, South Australians turned up! The cages at Blair Athol were full and overflowing with preloved items only five days after our appeal went public, as were our storage areas in our three Elcies stores in Norwood, Semaphore and Tanunda.
This incredible response from the public demonstrates just how generous South Australians can be and how quickly they can act.
On Saturday, July 29, Channel 9 News aired a segment featuring our Chief Executive Officer Rohan Feegrade and Op Shops General Manager Babs Deane. The ABC also ran a story on radio and online the following day.
A few days later, local media personality Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello shared a post about our urgent call out on his Facebook page, which had more than 200 shares.
Lutheran Care’s General Manager Op Shops Babs Deane said the number of donations received in less than a week would normally take the shops about three months to collect.
“The response has been overwhelming and I want to thank the South Australian public for their generosity,” Babs says.
“We are still getting calls and people are happy to wait for us to collect donations if they cannot bring them in themselves.
“I even had the op shop from Andamooka ring to say they are bringing down a trailer load!
“Our volunteers and staff are so busy and we thank every person profusely for their kindness. It is really quite inspiring and amazing.
“We’re all in tears with the kindness offered by so many.”
Many people from generous Lutheran Church communities and other churches are also rounding up goods and bringing them in. Additionally our staff and volunteers have been doing what they can and asking their family and friends to donate.
The organisation’s Op Shops are important fundraisers for Lutheran Care’s work with vulnerable people, including the in-demand Emergency Relief program. Through this program, our team provides a food pantry, clothing and bedding, as well as supermarket, transport and Op Shop vouchers. We also provide referrals to Lutheran Care’s ongoing support services, such as financial counselling and personal counselling.
With many households struggling at the moment, Lutheran Care services are currently stretched by a growing demand due to the cost of living and housing crises. Additionally, in winter, Lutheran Care works with many people doing it tough in difficult conditions.
“Many households are feeling the pinch right now and we understand that people may no longer have the financial capacity to donate items when they could be holding onto them or selling them,” Lutheran Care’s Chief Executive Officer Rohan Feegrade says.
“From what we are seeing, kindness abounds. Our team has been contacted personally by dozens of people wanting to donate goods and enquiring about collection.
“The spirit of giving is alive and well in our community and we are so grateful.
“Every item we have received will be used to help someone who needs help, whether that be through selling it to raise money, to fund a food bag for an Emergency Relief client or given to a client who needs it.
“Our team has been touched by a number of donors who do not have much themselves, but wanted to give a warm jacket or a bag of clothes to someone who needs it.”
In the past year, Lutheran Care provided Emergency Relief to 1677 clients via 3353 appointments. Half of these clients were new clients, having never accessed the service before. A total of 76 clients accessed ER five or more times.
“We are so proud to be South Australian born and bred, and every dollar raised through the sale of the goods donated will help a member of your community,” Mr Feegrade says.
“Thank you once again for this astonishing and humbling response.”
If you have good-quality donations of preloved goods, we will gratefully accept them at our Distribution Centre, at 307 Prospect Road, or any of our Elcies stores:
- 43-45 The Parade, Norwood
- 231 Military Road, Semaphore
- Shop 4/46 Murray Street, Tanunda.
To find out more about our Op Shops and what donations we can and cannot accept, visit www.lutherancare.org.au/op-shops