Is charity love? Some people may argue that charitable acts are done for pity or to gain something in return. At the very least, they contend that it is giving to the underprivileged. However, I believe that true charity is done from the heart, and it can be extended to anyone at virtually anytime.

Charity is essential for the community as it spreads joy to everyone and, yes, it often means helping the less fortunate. Redhill’s British Red Cross Furniture Store is a great example of this as it works to help the disadvantaged in the UK and overseas. Funds are raised primarily by selling items of furniture and a collection of smaller items such as CDs, vinyl records, and glassware. Does purchasing or donating a single Bric a Brac really matter? When we appreciate that each purchase or donation goes towards a most worthy cause, then we realize that even a minute contribution matters.

I interviewed a few people who work in the store to find out how impactful they feel the British Red Cross has been upon the Redhill community. “It helps because people can buy affordable furniture,” reveals Sue, the Assistant Manager, who affirms that they “do a lot of fundraising for different events and organizations.” Sue maintains, “Working in the shop is a unique experience as everyday you meet lots of new customers. It’s really interesting.”

Steve (a retail volunteer) concurs, “I do it mainly because I like being around other people. It’s fun just to talk to different people, meet different people, and see what people donate.”  He further declares, “This old typewriter looks like a collector’s item that you just don’t see anymore, [which is] interesting.”

The donors are varied and may even be surprising. “All types of people donate,” Sue divulges.

“They come in all shapes, sizes, and variants,” discloses Steve.

“Literally anyone and everyone donates!” Dave confirms. We’ve had multimillionaires donating stuff. I’ve had multimillionaires buying stuff, and we have people who are on welfare, a whole range.” Hence, the products in the store are from a myriad of places with numerous stories behind them.

Dave believes “good quality things that otherwise might have been thrown out [are available] for people that wouldn’t be able to afford them in standard retail shops.” He comments, “I think it helps in lots of ways… people on low incomes can buy cheap things here. If you’re maybe too young to work a proper job, or if you’re retired or going through some sort of life crisis, it will help you get work.” Dave refers to his job in the most jovial terms, “There is always something new happening, a new person to meet, or a new crisis to deal with, so it’s great fun.”

One common denominator for those who work at the charity shop is the happiness they experience and exude. Unquestionably, the shop serves those who are less fortunate, but it also provides a sense of community and fellowship for locals and employees. Have you ever been to Redhill’s British Red Cross Furniture Store? There, you are greeted with smiles and a cheerful disposition from staff, many of whom are volunteers and are always willing to offer assistance or a friendly chat. This store, therefore, doesn’t simply cater to the “less fortunate.” Rather, as Dave, aptly conveys, “It’s a community hub. The same customers shop here often. Every day you see people you know; people will come in just to chat. I’d like to think it’s at the centre of the community.” Clearly then, charity is ubiquitous love that involves giving more than material necessities and unwittingly receiving joy in return. It is obviously not limited to giving to the needy. You may say that at the Redhill Red British Cross, charity is love reciprocated.