A Letter to Charity Shops

Dear charity shop volunteer,

I know that it can be tough working in a charity shop.

That you have to sort through piles and piles of discarded clothes…

 

That sometimes you can’t get in to open the shop for bin bags stuffed full of rubbish blocking the doorway…

That you may be giving up your time for free…

That customers can be rude and annoying…

Or complain about the prices as though you were pocketing the cash yourself.

And I really respect and admire the fact that you’re giving your time to help a good cause.

BUT. And this is a big but.

If you’re working in a charity shop, please, you must always do one thing. When somebody comes in with a donation, no matter how small, how grotty, how pointless, you must say, “Thank you”. Just two words. Please.

 

Because you never know what someone’s story is.

Maybe that suit is their recently deceased husband’s and they’ve just cleared out his wardrobe.

Maybe that china was a cherished wedding present they don’t have space for, as they’ve just downsized.

Maybe they’re newly divorced and are clearing out the memories of 20 years of married life.

Maybe that bag contains their child’s childhood now they’ve flown the nest.

Maybe it’s the result of a hard-fought battle to declutter a messy home.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that we’ve bagged up our things and taken the time to donate, lugging our stuff all the way there with all the buses or parking that this involves.

 

The thing is, whatever your story, when you walk to the back of the shop with your bags of donated goods, only to have a volunteer point and say curtly “put it there” without so much as turning around… it’s upsetting. And it hurts. What’s surprising is that this kind or response to our donations is more common than not. It’s the main gripe people have with charity shops.

So if you’re working in a charity shop, take note. And if you’re a charity, please tell your volunteers or shop staff. We all deserve more. We’re not asking

for a medal or a lingering embrace when we hand over our stuff. You’re busy, we know. All we need is a smile and a thank you. It’s not much but you know what? It can make all the difference.

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