Street Store serves over 900 people
On 3 June, the Denis Hurley Centre, in partnership with Grace Church, held it’s 5th annual Street Store. The aim is to create an environment where poor people can ‘shop’ for clothes with dignity – and completely free of charge.
It all starts weeks in advance. Grace Church collects mountains of unwanted and second hand clothing, which is sorted to ensure that only clean, good quality clothes and shoes are offered. Grace also co-ordinates security, fencing, and hundreds of volunteers. The night before the event, a container full of pre-sorted clothes arrives at the Denis Hurley Centre courtesy of Container World.
Women and children flock to Street Store
Hundreds of people start start queuing the night before at Emmanuel Cathedral. Usually, 90% of our visitors are young men, desperate for the meal provided at the Centre. But this event sees more women and children. With this in mind, a staffed play area is offered for children, so their mothers can shop in peace!
Every person who comes through the gate is greeted by a personal shopper, who assists them as they browse through the clothes and shoes, sorted by gender and size. Having done their ‘shopping’, customers could take advantage of foot washing or haircuts. In addition, the DHC clinic team provided simple health tests.
Food for Life team serves meal
Afterwards, shoppers and volunteers enjoyed an excellent vegetarian breyani from the Food for Life team at Newlands. There were also advice desks. Among them were IEC officials, to help people register to vote in next year’s general election.
In the noise and busy-ness of serving almost 1,000 people, it is the impact on individuals which is most poignant. We remember the young mother beaming because she has an almost-new outfit for her baby; the volunteer still smiling after spending hours washing the feet of homeless people because this has helped her reconnect with her faith; the duty police officer commenting on how powerful it is for him to see such diverse people sharing the space in joy and peace; the homeless man who walks back later in the day because he did not feel he had said ‘thank you’ enough times before he left.
We are immensely grateful to all who made the Street Store possible, and hope and pray that this sets a standard of how we, as a city, can bring people together to help each other.
[with acknowledgement to the Denis Hurley Centre Update of June 2023]