There’s a right way and a wrong way to do­nate

Dubbo Photo News - - News Extra - John Ryan

VOL­UN­TEERS at Dubbo’s St Vin­cent de Paul op shop in Bris­bane Street de­vote a stag­ger­ing 1200 hours to the com­mu­nity each month.

That works out at 40 hours per day, seven days each week.

Vol­un­teer hours are worth about $35 for ba­sic un­skilled labour, so this one op shop is gen­er­at­ing about half a mil­lion dol­lars of un­paid labour into the Dubbo com­mu­nity each year.

That is a con­tri­bu­tion re­ally be­yond price.

Many of the vol­un­teers are older, and their hearts were bro­ken when they rocked up on Tues­day morn­ing to find do­nated clothes that wouldn’t fit in their do­na­tion bin strewn across the con­crete, rain soaked and ru­ined.

If clothes hit the ground, they have to be thrown out and, iron­i­cally, the char­ity has to pay from its hard-earned cash to dump what were meant to be do­na­tions.

Pat Thorn­ton, who is co-or­di­na­tor at Vin­nie’s Dubbo store, told Dubbo Photo News, “Peo­ple do­nate good things, their lit­tle trea­sures, and they bring them in in good faith think­ing they’re do­nat­ing them to St Vin­cent de Paul to be used for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

“The vol­un­teers give up their time to sort through ev­ery­thing, and it’s dis­tress­ing for them if they not only can’t use them, but are forced to throw them out.”

Carmel Carolan vol­un­teers at Vin­nies and was with the sort­ing ladies when they ar­rived at the store to see piles of wa­ter-soaked clothes sit­ting next to the do­na­tion bins on Tues­day morn­ing this week.

“Oh, they were just dis­traught. They said, ‘You know, this is ter­ri­ble and we need to let peo­ple know that this has hap­pened to things they were do­nat­ing to us so it doesn’t hap­pen again,’” Mrs Carolan said.

St Vin­cent de Paul So­ci­ety NSW Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer for this area, Bruce Buchanan, said it’s a com­mon prob­lem, see­ing well-mean­ing do­na­tions un­able to be used for var­i­ous rea­sons, then plac­ing a bur­den on the very char­ity they’re try­ing to help.

“Un­for­tu­nately, do­na­tions that are left on the side­walk or be­side bins of­ten get scat­tered across the pay­ment overnight and are un­able to be used,” Mr Buchanan said.

“So Vin­nies is ask­ing peo­ple to please bring their qual­ity do­na­tions dur­ing busi­ness hours as much as pos­si­ble.

“We have a num­ber of vol­un­teers who come in on week­ends to empty bins so we can con­tinue to ac­cept do­na­tions, but some­times we do get over­whelmed with do­na­tions on par­tic­u­lar week­ends,” he said.

Vin­nies has no­ticed a mas­sive up­surge in de­mand be­cause of the cur­rent drought, so in ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing care and sup­port to those in need in western com­mu­ni­ties, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has pro­vided more than $5 mil­lion of fi­nan­cial sup­port to farm­ers through­out this Dio­cese, which cov­ers an area from Oberon to Coon­am­ble.

“In this tough time of drought, Vin­nie’s has been able to pro­vide some fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to farm­ers for house­hold bills to en­sure the fam­ily is looked af­ter. There are a num­ber of char­i­ties look­ing af­ter farm as­sis­tance so Vin­nies is fo­cus­ing on the fam­ily,” Mr Buchanan said.

“We are so grate­ful to the Dubbo com­mu­nity for sup­port­ing us with their do­na­tions, we just don’t want to see those do­na­tions spoilt and not get used.”

There are so many char­i­ties do­ing so many good things, but this case shows that of­ten good in­ten­tions need to be backed up with some knowl­edge.

It’s no use tak­ing the time and mak­ing the effort to do­nate clothes to Vin­nies if the bin is full and your do­na­tion will be ru­ined by rain.

And if you have some spare time on your hands, look around for a char­ity or com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion, give them a call and ask how you can help – you may be pleas­antly sur­prised at just how easy it is, and you’ll cer­tainly be pleased that you’ll get at least as much out of vol­un­teer­ing as you put in.

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Pat Thorn­ton and Carmel Carolan (front) with vol­un­teers at Vin­nie’s in Dubbo. They’re ask­ing the com­mu­nity to make sure do­na­tions are in the proper bin, oth­er­wise they can be dam­aged by weather and un­us­able.

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