By Danielle Kutchel
The bite of Covid lockdowns has hit businesses hard – and charities are no exception.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the Cranbourne-based op shop for Backpacks for Vic Kids (B4VK) has found.
The Camms Road op shop is a vital fundraising arm for its namesake charity, allowing the organisation to continue its mission of providing comfort and support to children in out-of-home care through the provision of backpacks filled with essential items.
The shop re-opened in the gap between the two lockdowns, only to have to close again when Melbourne entered stage four restrictions.
It was devastating for the volunteers who had worked so hard to get the shop ready for opening, according to shop manager Suzie Brooking.
The lockdown also forced a rethink of how to continue to make the money that the charity so sorely needs.
“Children still need the backpacks, and we still need to fundraise,” she explains.
“We had to adapt to find other ways to fundraise or make money in general.”
For B4VK, that meant creating new products: locket and pendant necklaces, and essential oil diffuser necklaces. that are for sale through eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
These were chosen as they are small and cheap to post, making it easier for both parties to afford.
And, Suzie said, they’re an avenue of fundraising that willbe continued even after lockdown.
She has also created ‘busy bags’ for sale – bags filled with activities and items from the op shop to keep kids – and adults – entertained.
With shoppers experiencing delays in online shopping from larger outlets, and with many children’s clothing sizes out of stock, Suzie has begun offering clothing from the op shop online through Cranbourne Facebook noticeboards.
Delivery is available for buyers, circumventing the Australia Post parcel backlog.
And Suzie has taken advantage of the quiet time to get some much-needed renovations done, so that when the op shop is able to re-open, visitors will find the space totally transformed with new shelving, carpets and two new change rooms.
In good news for shoppers, Eftpos is also now available.
The quiet has also allowed Suzie to sort through the piles of donations the shop has received.
With things now looking up on the Covid front, Suzie is looking forward to being able to show customers the new-look store in person, rather than just through photos and videos on Facebook, and even holding a grand opening later in the year.
“It’s exciting times!” she said.
“There has been plenty to do while we’re closed – it would be better to be open, obviously, but by improving the shop and all the other ideas we have had, Covid hasn’t brought us down too much.
“There’s been some positives and obviously some negatives, but we have to keep on keeping on, and once we’re open, we’ll try again.”
B4VK is currently accepting donations to its B4VK Foster Care Week Appeal. To donate, visit www.mycause.com.au/page/235039/b4vkappeal
The charity is also currently accepting items for ME Packs including blankets for teens (like fleece throw rugs), track pants for boys in sizes 5-18 (or men’s M), pyjamas for children in sizes 7-18 (or adults M), and jumpers for girls sizes 4-10. Get in touch via www.backpacks4vickids.org.au
Find Backpacks for Vic Kids on eBay at www.ebay.com.au/usr/b4ops-0 and Facebook at www.facebook.com/B4VKCharityOpShop/