THE volunteers who turn up every morning at St Vincent de Paul in Orange have a right to feel disheartened when they see the mess created at the front of the shop by people with no concern for others after rifling through, destroying and throwing around donations of clothing and household items.
While the argument might be made that setting up clothing bins in an area that is accessible 24-hours a day will inevitably attract problems it is a sad indictment on our community that the weekend’s incident is the latest in a long line, disgraceful acts which have been occurring for longer than most responsible citizens care to remember.
In theory, it’s a simple and flawless system: unwanted goods in reasonable condition are deposited by kind-hearted residents in one of the multiple bins outside the charity organisation’s McNamara Street property.
On any given Monday to Friday volunteers empty the receptacles, sort through the items and, in good time, make them available for the city’s needy to browse through and purchase at a very reasonable price.
It should be foolproof, and would be, were it not for the laziness and greediness inherent in a small minority of residents.
It’s lazy to drive past the outlet, see the full bins and consciously decide to leave bags of clothes and other assorted household items at the store front, rather than return at a later date when the bins are empty and able to safely house your donations.
It’s greedy to wait until the cover of darkness before driving to the store to tear apart plastic bags of clothes, taking what you want and leaving the remainder strewn across the street.
You can add the label selfish to those involved in the latter scenario, too.
Obviously, the worst byproduct is that those in genuine need are being deprived, going without clothing or small creature comforts because others are putting themselves first.
But a hidden cost is the impact of the organisation’s volunteers who are forced to clean up a mess they had nothing to do with creating, time that could and should be spent readying the goods for distribution.
With each disgraceful incident it must be harder for these kind souls to summon the reserves of generosity required to give their time to the cause.
One day, they’ll turn up for duty, see the street full of stray shirts and socks, and simply drive home.
Who could blame them.