THERE are few, if any, organisations more recognised as being a force for good on a global scale then the Red Cross, and for 50 years, the entire Numurkah community has been a small part of that global force.
With the support of volunteers from the Numurkah and Katunga Red Cross branches, Numurkah’s Red Cross op-shop opened its doors on December 6, 1969 on Knox Street Numurkah.
In its first year of operation the shop raised $350.
Red Cross shop volunteers wheeling racks of clothing through the streets of Numurkah became a common sight in the first 17 years of the shop’s existence, with it moving premises six times.
The shop occupied spaces in the President’s room of what was then the shire offices, the Farmer’s Arms Hotel (now Newman Square), McPherson’s Arcade, the old State Savings Bank (now McNamara’s real estate), before moving back to Knox Street and finally, in 1983, to the old fire station on Quinn Street where it is still located today.
Current Red Cross Shop volunteer manager Gemma Pugh said that, although there have been many venue changes over the years, not much else has changed.
“We are proud to be a proper old-fashioned op-shop,” she said.
“All of the goods are donated by local people and we still sort through and price the donated goods every Thursday morning,” she said.
“We are all of the opinion that we don’t want to out-price ourselves, so we sell our goods cheap, at op-shop prices. We are a community resource, and the goods we sell need to be affordable for those who need them.
“As for quality, our policy is that we’d never put out anything that we wouldn’t use ourselves.”
Another thing the shop has always had is boatloads of community spirit and goodwill.
Alison Cook, who has been volunteering at the shop for 35 years, said that whilst, for a long time, it was the only op-shop in town, being in competition with two other op-shops hasn’t done the Red Cross shop any harm.
“Numurkah is a very generous community, and well able to support three op-shops,” she said.
“It wouldn’t work if the community didn’t support us, but it always has and we are very grateful for that.”
Whilst community attitudes to donating to the shop have always been solid, the op-shop ladies have seen a shift in attitudes to buying pre-loved items.
Long term volunteer, and former manager, Sandra Beer said that the connotation of buying donated items has changed.
“It used to be seen as a bit of a negative thing, but people are much more open to buying used goods now and see it as a form of recycling,” she said.
“The de-cluttering movement of recent years means that there are always plenty of recycled items for those who want to shop second hand.”
All proceeds from the store go to the Australian Red Cross Society to help Australian disaster victims and others in need - including those in our own district.
“There have been quite a few times when local people have been provided with money following a house fire or something like that, and that’s why shops like ours exist - to help people right across the country who find themselves in a situation like that,” Ms Pugh said.
“It’s thanks to our volunteers, many of whom have been with us for a long time, and the community that has always supported us, that we are able to be part of that assistance, and that’s what we are celebrating this year.
“This is a genuine community resource run by generous volunteers for a generous community.”
There will be an anniversary celebration held at the Red Cross shop on Quinn Street at 11am on Thursday, December 5.