Join in ... at the St John’s Op Shop
Deb Northcott and Deb New invite you to put smiles on the faces of people who are struggling to make ends meet in Murray Bridge.
During a morning tea break in the kitchen adjoining St John’s Op Shop, manager Deb Northcott reveals the many ways she and her team help the Murray Bridge community.
A couple of things soon became clear: the selfless, dedicated volunteers like a laugh and love their kind-hearted boss, and a large number of team members are called Deb.
Deb Northcott and volunteer Deb Rew spoke about the good work of St John’s Op Shop; team member Buffy the Bunny declined to comment.
When did you first get involved with St John’s Op Shop?
Deb Northcott: About eight years ago when I came down from Booleroo Centre in the Mid North. But I’m a local girl, and my family’s here.
What do you spend your time doing?
Deb Northcott: Doing our hygiene packs, with toothpaste and soap, for anybody in need. Last year, we gave out 50. And we give to the homeless linen, towels and anything they need. We’ve also helped grandchildren whose children have come into their care. We also have vintage clothing that (radio announcer) Amanda Blair picks up from us, and she sells it to the homeless once or twice a year.
Deb Rew: We network with Foodbank and pass on stuff to Red Nose.
Deb Northcott: We give to the pet store any old towels and blankets we can’t use. And we donate nappies, lunchboxes, shoes and t-shirts to the kindy. We donate black shoes and musical instruments to Tyndale (Christian School). We also give stuff to an anger management therapy group for their smash room. It’s got to be heavy, smashable stuff – crockery, vases, dishes. Anything we can’t use, we pass onto somebody else. The money we use goes straight into Murray Bridge.
What do you get out of your involvement?
Deb Northcott: I get pride. I think it’s a true blessing to be here when someone’s in need. I was a single mum, and I know how tough it is, and it’s getting tougher and tougher.
Deb Rew: Friendship. We’ve all become really good friends. And seeing someone walk out of here happy when they haven’t walked in happy.
What is your fondest memory of your time with St John’s Op Shop?
Deb Rew: We had some grandparents who got their grandchildren overnight, and they had nearly nothing for them. We gave them clothes and books – everything to help. When they came to the till, we said, “We’re not accepting payment today.” The husband and wife hugged us. They didn’t know help was available.
Deb Northcott: We had a gentleman with a dog who was truly homeless. I was having a coffee, and he said to me, “You actually see me. People usually turn away.” That was quite poignant for me.
Shirley (another volunteer): Deb even offered her home for the person to have a shower.
What is your goal with St John’s Op Shop?
Deb Northcott: To keep growing and serve as many people as we can. To get out more and more, so that people know we’re here. More people are looking for help. It’s also the working poor now. More people are looking for help. Sometimes, people just want someone to chat to and have a smile.
Deb Rew: To keep helping Deb to make the op shop bigger and widely known and help the community.
Why should people volunteer at the shop?
Deb Rew: To gain skills, because I’ve gained a lot of the skills which would be great for the young looking for work and for the elderly who want to keep their skills up.
Deb Northcott: Also for the friendship. We all go to the movies together. Everybody’s welcome here. We could always do with the help. You don’t need to be involved with the church to be involved. We’re all from different backgrounds and have different skills to bring.
More information: Phone Deb Northcott on 0412 844 145, email email@example.com or visit the St. John’s Op Shop Facebook page.
Correction: An earlier version of the story misspelt Deb Rew’s name as Deb New.
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