Fallbrook’s St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop was founded in 2000 to help the needy people and organizations in town; that mission continues today. Since its opening, the shop’s all-volunteer staff and board have distributed over $3 million to the Fallbrook community, including more than $270,000 to the Fallbrook Food Pantry through monthly donations.
About 30 of the present 100+ volunteers have worked for the shop since the beginning. Most of the volunteers attend St. Peter the Apostle Church, but not all. Some are parishioners’ friends and neighbors who have joined the effort; they all share the same goal, “helping those in need in Fallbrook,” (the shop’s motto), by turning unwanted items into much-appreciated funds.
At least 10 volunteers work at the shop each day, Monday through Saturday, sorting and pricing donated items, and helping customers. All of the money raised is used to fund programs that help mostly local residents. Board member Kristen Conan said the board rarely decides to send funds out of the area. One exception was the aid provided to Hurricane Sandy victims last year when the board “connected with a Catholic parish back East,” she explained.
The volunteers enjoy working at the store; Conan said, “We’ve met so many new friends here. It is a good way to meet people.” They are looking forward to the holidays to repeat a project they started last year. “We adopted Marine families at Christmas time and they were so thankful and appreciative; it was really nice,” Conan said.
Otherwise, the money raised in the shop is given as scholarships and as donations to local groups depending on need. Besides Fallbrook Food Pantry, beneficiaries include Fallbrook Senior Center, Foundation for Senior Care and REINS. Conan added that funds are also used in their Community Assistance Program which has helped over 3,600 people in the past 12 years.
Residents can come in and apply for monetary aid and “we will try to help,” she said. The board meets once a month to review letters/requests for funding. It does not pay people’s rent for them but can help pay other bills and provide gift cards to a local grocery store, assistance provided once a year per family.
The group also donates clothing to the food pantry as it gets more than enough to fill their shop. According to Conan, lots of designer clothing is donated and they change the types of clothing on the racks with the seasons. Right now, bathing suits are available (mostly children’s sizes) while bags of jackets are stored in the pricing room for the fall. Other goods available for reasonable prices are shoes, bedding, small appliances, furniture and stuffed animals.
Sometimes, St. Vincent de Paul receives what is left of an entire estate to sell in the shop. Large donated items, like furniture, can be picked up by the group’s truck on Tuesdays and Wednesdays by arrangement. The group will also accept donations of cars and boats, with certain restrictions. More helpers are always appreciated; anyone who would like to volunteer, schedule a pick up or who would like more information can call the shop at (760) 728-7012.
St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop, 520 S. Main Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday; donations may be dropped off during those hours only, at the southeast corner of the building.