Charity shops fight the recession on all fronts
2010-04-15 15:49:40 -

The number of Irish people making donations to charity has fallen off as the recession takes hold, but charity shops are still doing brisk trade – providing a great way to make some savings while making a difference at the same time.

Such shops have enjoyed an increase in the number of volunteers since the onset of the recession, as the newly unemployed seek to retain some job skills during the downturn. Meanwhile, a big influx of foreign nationals coming into the shops – both as volunteers and customers – has resulted in a greater diversity of products available on the shelves. 
Statistics compiled by the Irish Charity Engagement Monitor show that on-street bucket collections and buying products from charity shops are the two most common methods of giving to charity. It seems that the interactive experience of a charity shop is very appealing to the Irish public. 
Moreover, a new survey conducted by Fundraising Ireland has shown that Irish people are also more giving in their time towards charitable activities. And this isn’t limited to the Irish!
In August last year, popular British band Arctic Monkeys recorded a music industry first when they released their single ‘Crying Lightning’ in selected Oxfam Ireland shops, with proceeds going to help the charity’s lifesaving work throughout Africa. 
This served as a huge public statement, intended to inspire contributions and to quell the image that charity shops were operating solely with the poor or elderly in mind.
Last year alone the 48 Oxfam shops across Ireland raised over €300,000 through music sales – enough to fund its entire programme in Kitgum, northern Uganda. The programme is assisting people who have lived in refugee camps for the last 10 years to return to their home villages and rebuild their lives and livelihoods. 
The environmental aspect of the charity shops should not be overlooked either; they prevent countless goods from ending up in Irish landfills. Indeed, in 2005 Irish charity shops ensured that more than 10,000 tons of clothes, shoes and household textiles that would otherwise have been dumped were either reused or recycled. 
More than 80 per cent of the items were reused; the rest were recycled either as re-carded wool or cotton or as insulation and padding in the motor industry.
Despite the recent drop in donations, it’s quite clear that charity shops are still providing an important public service, and the public are still keen to avail of it. At the same time, the many volunteers who run these shops should serve as an inspiration to those who have been left confused and angry by the recession. 
So why not pop in to your local charity shop, make a donation or a purchase, and know that you’re helping make a better world.

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