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Ballarat Hospice Care’s Friends of Hospice op shops started with one store in a disused Drummond Street South church back in 2014.

There is now one boutique store located at 723 Sturt Street.

Former op shop manager Gen Ware said the volunteer base has also expanded accordingly.

“We now have 50 volunteers in our op shops on a rotating roster and we also have community professionals who help us as well,” Ms Ware said.

Sponsorship partners have been built with local business including Telstra Country Wide, Ing Homewares, Flash Drive and Stockland Wendouree. Local business assistance has been provided by Allen Bros, Wool Shed Clothing and individual antique valuators.

“We’ve definitely grown – it’s been steady over the past two and a half years,” Ms Ware said.

She said families and business were also very generous with their donations.

“There is great community support behind the op shops as well.”

For volunteers Vicki Hearn and Glenda Dean, their work in the op shops has a special connection to a loved one.

Ballarat Hospice Care helped Vicki nurse her father when he was ill 11 years ago and she joined as a volunteer two and a half years ago.

“The nursing staff would interact with the doctors for me, administer the drugs, provide equipment, counselling and even power of attorney – they helped me with all that,” Vicki said.

“So I wanted to come up here and be a volunteer for Hospice. I have a key drive to help the store turn over a profit and keep the nurses on the road and keep the equipment and the service going.”

She said the op shops accepted most goods except for electrical items, including clothes, records, toys, bric-a-brac, books, jewellery, handbags and shoes.

“People donate all sorts of things,” Vicki said.

Vicki works between 15 and 18 hours a week in the Little Bridge Street store and loves helping out.

“I just enjoy all aspects of it – the customers, sorting the stock, I do a lot of pricing, the front windows, the in-store mannequins, the cash register service.

“I like to keep the store flowing as much as I can.”

Glenda said Ballarat Hospice Care was a very important community service.

“My eldest sister suddenly became very ill and, after her (cancer) diagnosis, my other sister, who is a nurse, suggested we engage with Hospice,” Glenda said.

“It enabled my sister to stay living where she lived.”

She said Hospice provided medications, equipment and emotional support at a very difficult time.

After her sister passed away, Glenda heard Ballarat Hospice Care was thinking of opening an op shop.

“I said straight away ‘I want to do this’. It’s such a good service and more and more people are finding it.”

The Ballarat Hospice Care op shop is located at  723 Sturt Street Ballarat. It is open from 9:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

For more information, contact 5333 1118 or the Sturt St store on 5331 3743.