FOR many, op shops are a great place to bag a bargain, but for the needy they offer a crucial lifeline.
Tamworth resident Margaret Alexander’s 15-year-old granddaughter lost all her belongings two weeks ago when her bedroom caught fire.
When Mrs Alexander contacted her local St John’s op shop on Monday to see if they could help, she was blown away by their generosity.
“They immediately came to her aid when told of her plight. I was absolutely thrilled,” she said.
After piling up her car with donated pillows, blankets, sheets and clothes, she drove to Manilla to deliver the goods, which were gratefully received.
The op shop, which has a charity bin outside the church on Carthage St and runs entirely off donations from the community, not only assists disaster victims but everyday people doing it tough.
“We recently helped a young girl who was kicked out of home and we’ve had a young gentleman who was released from jail,” co-manager Darren Ralph said.
“We also have men coming in from the youth hostel ... and we assist the women’s shelter and the hospital.”
Mr Ralph put the increased reliance on op shops down to a “sign of the times”.
“People are finding it harder to make ends meet and survive in general,” he said.
“We keep our prices low, as we know it’s very hard for people in the community.”
During general business, St John’s op shop clients can fill a grey grocery bag to the brim for $7, or two bags for $10.
But their winter clearance starting on September 11 is sure to see “winter clothing” bags, at a thrifty $2 each, running out the door.
Mr Ralph said it was extremely rewarding to help people get back on their feet.
“Just to see smiles on people’s faces ... it shows them there are people out there who care. It’s a lovely feeling you get when you can help people in some way,” he said.
Mr Ralph and co-manager David Rose pass on goods that aren’t used and any profit made is filtered back into the community, with the Marsupial Park and Anglicare counselling just two of the beneficiaries.
The shop operates on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8.30am to noon, but can provide assistance outside these hours.