WALKING INTO OP SHOPS CAN BRING THAT SPECIAL FEELING of treasure hunting. Like you're about to find something very unique with a lot of history. One day Carolyn Foster had an idea to combine that nostalgic op shop experience with a very noble purpose, and that's how the Tuggerah ADRA Op Shop was born.
From a Christian family, Carolyn always felt the need to make her Christianity more real by doing more for the community. She and her husband own a transport business with 99% of the customers being interior designers, and in that, she saw an opportunity to start the project.
Carolyn began by emailing the clients, asking if they would be willing to donate items to the ADRA Op Shop. "The response was amazing", she remembers. "In the days leading up to finding a shop, we had been donated a lot of furniture. My double garage and rumpus room, my parents' double garage and a friend's garage all had furniture being stored in for when the shop opened."
A special humanitarian agency
The decision to make it an ADRA Op Shop is the main reason why the shop is so important for the community. ADRA, as the name says, "Adventist Development and Relief Agency", is a worldwide organization that supports people in need delivering relief and development assistance to individuals in more than 130 countries. Its help can range from risk and war zones to communities in developed countries struggling with depression.
"Here, the Op Shop supports the community by people firstly bringing donations to us. Once we receive the donations, we put them on the floor, check them, then sell them to the community for a great cheap cost. And the money we raise goes back to the local community."
80% of the funds raised by ADRA Op Shops are used to fund a range of local ADRA community projects such as women’s refuges, at-risk youth intervention, drug and alcohol counselling, as well as literacy and job skill training.
A special bond
More than providing access to cheap, but quality products and financial support to ADRA's projects, Carolyn and the volunteers who work in the shop have also been getting to know and helping people in the community through friendship. "We have had customers come in and spend time talking with us, sharing their life struggles and talking about their families. The really special part is we are starting to learn their names and they know ours too."
She says this friendship has been bringing a positive impact on her life and the lives of the volunteers. "It is so amazing how, through service, we have found greater peace and happiness."
The diverse volunteer staff who work in the store all share the same passion: to make a difference in the lives of those who visit the shop every day. "We desire to have a place where people can come in when they are having a rough time and know they will receive help in whatever way we can."
Yes, walking into op shops can bring that special feeling of treasure hunting, but in the Tuggerah ADRA Op Shop, you will find more than, unique objects and furniture. You will find a caring and loving staff who is willing to serve the community, and bit by bit, make the world a better place.
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