A number of opportunity shops have reopened across Ballarat with the easing of restrictions in regional Victoria just in time to celebrate National Op Shop Week from Monday.
Managers have told The Courier the reopening of stores meant a lot to volunteers, loyal customers and organisations that relied on the income to fund community programs.
Ballarat Community Church Salvation Army Thrift Shop on Creswick Road reopened its doors to the public two weeks ago, after closing during the stage three lockdown.
It is now open from 10am to 3pm weekdays and is accepting donations during opening hours.
We simply wouldn't be here without our volunteers.Angela Kelly, Salvation Army Ballarat thrift shops manager
Salvation Army Ballarat Community Church thrift shops manager Angela Kelly said it was fantastic to have volunteers back in store.
"They love volunteering and they are good people to give up their time, but there is also a social aspect too for a lot of our volunteers," she said.
"From an organisational perspective it is super important to us because we simply wouldn't be here without our volunteers.
"They are the backbone of what we actually do. I often look at them and am quite amazed.
"We have people who come here one, two, three days a week. It is pretty amazing to give up your time to help other people in the community."
Volunteer Diane Lindsay said she volunteered at the store two days a week and she loved being back at work.
"The crew that I work with are fantastic. It is a really good work environment," she said.
"We were devastated when the store had to shutdown."
All income from the Creswick Road store goes directly to supporting Salvation Army Ballarat Community Church programs, including the school lunch program and the cafe.
Uniting Op Shops operate on the same model, meaning all funds raised from its Ballarat stores fund Ballarat programs including Breezeway, Meals for Change, Lifeline and emergency relief.
Uniting Ballarat social enterprise coordinator Jamie Cameron said op shops could not operate without volunteers.
He said op shops played an important role in the community to promote and facilitate purchasing second-hand and diverting items from landfill.
"The diversion of landfill and reducing the amount of stuff going to landfill is a really big component for a lot of people now," Mr Cameron said.
"We are looking at trying to further reduce our waste output by another 15 per cent."
Uniting's Wendouree and Delacombe stores are open and accepting donations between 10am and 12pm.
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