Last year my brother Mark and I returned to our teenage haunt, Oxfam Broad Street, to volunteer on Christmas Eve. We’d both volunteered throughout our teenage years, going in during the school holidays when our Mum volunteered or stopping by for the occasional weekend, so we were excited to go back for a special Christmas shift whilst we were back at the family home.
First of all I stocked up the accessories whilst my brother watched the till on the women’s wear floor (where he supplied very inexpert style advice to unsuspecting customers trying things on). We had a special request from a customer who needed a new pair of leather gloves after leaving hers in a train station the day before. I went on a hunt to try and find a pair in the back room and, after finding around 20 left gloves and no rights, found a pair she was happy with. We chatted with her about her last minute Christmas shopping and she showed us a beautifully illustrated antique
book shed bought from the Oxfam bookshop around the corner from Broad Street. She left happy with her new gloves but not before giving us a huge chunk of fudge that shed got from the local sweet shop earning her the status as my brothers favourite customer ever!
After a while the volunteer who’d been doing the main till left and Mark took over whilst I went up to the backroom to take a look at the mending that had been left for me. As one of the few volunteers with experience in sewing my visits to Broad Street always involve being presented with a bag of clothes that need a bit of TLC to get them out on the shop floor. I only had a couple of things left for me on this shift. After sewing up a loose button I took a look at a hat which had a band that had become loose. I could tell that it had been glued on in the first place so decided
that super glue was the way to fix it… Five minutes, later after lots of cold water and help from Dage and Simon (the shop managers), I managed to get the super glue tube unstuck from my thumb and returned the hat and still unstuck band back into the donation pile for someone else to try their luck on!
I joined my brother on the downstairs till where Christmas FM was happily filling the ground floor. Mark had managed to find his old till login which had been set up when he was 15. It had a slightly unfortunate winking face 😉 after his name making him feel like his till receipts were flirting with every customer that came in! The shop had a busy excited vibe as people rushed in for last minute wrapping paper, Divine chocolate, Oxfam Unwrapped gifts and quirky presents from the
donated stock. We had a bit of a crisis when we managed to make the till angry with us so we couldn’t do anything on it and the queue of customers started to back up across the shop. After a bit of panic Simon came to save us and I sent Mark upstairs with half the customers to use my login on the women’s wear till whilst me and Simon got through the other half downstairs.
Just before our shift ended the town security walkie-talkie burst into life and we heard the staff from the Superdrug around the corner start singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ to all the shop staff in Oxford working the Christmas Eve shift.
We had a great day volunteering at Oxfam and I’d really encourage anyone to go in and volunteer (Santa hats optional!). Whether just for Christmas – to help sort stock, tidy the shop floor, schedule some festive social media or great a Christmassy display – or to get involved for longer, you’re sure to be welcomed at Oxfam. Many of the shops have already started their Christmas windows so I challenge you to tackle their creativity in your local Oxfam!
Merry Christmas everybody!
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