Closing the card on an era of generosity

January 20, 2022 BY

Volunteer power: The shop’s Judy Morrison, Denise Boyko and Pamela Foulkes in action in 2019. Photo: FILE

AFTER thirty-seven Christmases in operation, the Ballarat Combined Charities Card Shop closed for the last time in December.

Denise Boyko has been involved for 17 years and has coordinated the initiative for the last five.

She said the shop’s team of 40 volunteers sold $18,000 worth of cards, crafts, tea towels, gifts, and plants in 2021.

“We’re returning those funds to the 27 charities we’ve supported this year. We haven’t retained any of our takings this year because we’re not ongoing,” she said.

“Locally, the SoupBus is receiving $2400, different units at Ballarat Health services have been supported sharing $2000, Berry Street is receiving $1700, $270 was raised for the 3BA Christmas Appeal through selling cake decorators’ recipe books, and pieces made by the Sheilas’ Shed raised $360 for the Royal Children’s Hospital.

“This year was really successful, particularly with the support of the craft items and local ladies creating gifts and decorations.”

Since the Shop first opened in the 80s, 150 “fabulous” people from across the region have volunteered to sell cards and gifts in the weeks before Christmas, and the shoppers popping in have been loyal.

“We have had feedback from our customers saying that they’re disappointed we’re closing, because some of them have been coming for years and years, so that was a bit sad,” Ms Boyko said.

“Others who had seen publicity and knew we were closing came in and doubled up what they were buying. We sold 750 tea towels and had to go back and order another 250.”

Ms Boyko said the shop has provided “invaluable” boosts to a “huge variety of charities,” and created a social space, since Connie Sadler first launched it.

Ms Sadler also coordinated the initiative for at least 30 years to follow.

“It’s been an important income source for the charities, and a focus for people who wanted to support those charities,” Ms Boyko said.

“When you spend your money, it’s great to know that you’re also supporting a good cause.

“With the volunteers, it’s been a lovely social, feel-good activity and a boost to morale. Some ladies meet up every week and have afternoon tea, and where possible, we’ve tried to roster people so they can work with friends they haven’t seen for a long time.”

Based at the St John’s Lutheran Church in recent years, Ms Boyko said that location has worked well, also supporting the Church community which hasn’t been able to run their garage sales throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve touched a lot of communities in many different ways.”

At 2.30pm on Wednesday, 30 March, volunteers and the broader Shop community will enjoy a casual afternoon tea at the Ballarat Golf Club to celebrate their achievements over the last 37 years.