Join in ... at the Murray Bridge Uniting Church thrift shop

Jill Meakins invites you to volunteer at the thrift shop, or come along and have a browse.

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Jill Meakins, Mere Ravula, Mel Dauchier, Rose Simmons and Adrienne Coulter invite you to join them at the Uniting Church thrift shop. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Every Wednesday, a shed next to the Murray Bridge Uniting Church opens up and a colourful assortment of second-hand goods is revealed: not just clothing, but pot plants, dolls and all sorts of other bits and bobs.

Directing traffic inside is Jill Meakins, the shop’s volunteer coordinator.

She and her team were forced to shut their doors for 11 weeks during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now they’re back open again, albeit with Keith Simmons or another volunteer collecting names and phone numbers and distributing sanitiser on the door.

When did you first get involved with the Murray Bridge Uniting Church thrift shop?

About six years ago, two couples were away on holidays so they asked “could anybody fill in?” I said yes, expecting to finish up when they returned, and I’m still here ... It’s a wonderful group of volunteers. They know what to do without being told. There’s lots to do ... This is a very happy place to work. We have morning tea under COVID conditions – bring your own.

What do you get out of your involvement?

Friendship with the other ladies, and to feel that I’m doing some charity work for the Uniting Church. The money goes to keeping our minister and gets distributed to various outreach projects. We have outreach projects here, too – that box that says “angel babies”, a lady in the Hills makes clothes for stillborn babies; crockery, we can’t sell anything that's chipped so we break those up for women who do mosaics ... We have a dog box, anything suitable for a dog to curl up on, and a zoo box, and a vet box for a vet in the Adelaide Hills who was looking after animals in the bushfires.

What is your fondest memory of your time at the thrift shop?

Some people don’t cope with life very well, but they come around here and you see them flourishing, sometimes. If I say to them “that’s your area”, they take charge of it. They breathe a bit easier, there’s a smile on your face ... you can just see what it does for them. People can rise to a challenge if they're challenged.

What do you spend your time doing each Wednesday?

I get here at eight o’clock and we start at 8.30. There’s a lot of setting up to be done ... Most of us are out the back, taking things that have come in, checking that they’re clean and there’s nothing in the pockets, and appropriating it where it should go. Winter things in summer are packed away, summer things should be hung out. Generally one person sits at the desk – that’s generally Max Menadue – and we have a COVID marshal, so Keith sits out there all day. It’s nice to have one of us out in the showroom, answering questions and chatting to people; but the rest of us are in here, working fairly hard. It’s fairly constant.

What do you hope to achieve at the thrift shop?

Darren (Lovell, the Uniting Church minister) would have it that money is not the main objective – it’s goodwill and the fellowship we engender. Then we also have a soup kitchen on a thrift shop day (the third Wednesday of each month) – that will bring people in here as well. There are different clientele, we like to see them come in and have a look around.

Why should people come and volunteer at the thrift shop?

If you’re ever lonely on a Wednesday, you come here and you’re not lonely any more. And we’re doing something tangible for the community.

  • More information: Call Jill Meakins on 0437 980 862.

“Join in” aims to promote community connections and wellbeing in the Murraylands – and it could promote your business, too. Murray Bridge News is seeking an ongoing sponsor for this weekly feature. Call Peri on 0419 827 124 or email

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