When Sandra Walmsley, Corpse Officer of the Forbes and Parkes Salvation Army, arrived in town in January this year, she could not have predicted the changes coming her way. Previously stationed in Deniliquin for five years, Sandra could not believe her luck at being sent to Forbes. “Forbes is a bit like coming home,” she said. “I got married here, it’s where my husband is from and our friends are here so it’s good to come back to familiar surroundings.”
Prior to the pandemic, the Forbes Family Store operated with 10 volunteers and now, due to their ages, the store is running on five volunteers who are working tirelessly to process the donations from generous Forbes residents.
With an abundance of donations, Sandra was thankful that the Forbes community did not flood donation bins, which have to sit in a 72-hour quarantine before being processed. “There is a fair bit of work to be done. Every op shop is always busy and while there is a lot to do, these family stores are a great way to connect to the community. It is a shop that services so many in the community regardless of wealth.”
“It was challenging for us to keep our doors closed with the recent dramatic change in weather, it’s when vulnerable people in our community rely on us the most,” Sandra said, who also wanted to assure the public that unsold items are not thrown away. “The Salvation Army sends stock that isn’t sold locally to One Ten, a charity organisation that supports widows and single women in Africa by mending damaged items and sending them on to communities where they are needed.”
Long term plans for the store are slowly taking shape, with plans for a community space where people can come in and have a cup of tea and chat. Volunteers and members of the public who want to connect and combat loneliness are always welcome.