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San Mateo SVdP expands thrift sales to e-commerce

November 5, 2015
Tom Burke

Its face-to-face ministry technique is based in the 19th century and still works wonderfully today but the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Mateo County is modernizing its outreach. Stifled by the cost of expanding its “brick and mortar” stores, e-commerce became an answer.

“Moving to e-commerce seemed a logical next step expansion opportunity to grow needed revenue as we do not take government funding,” Lorraine Moriarty, SVdP executive director, told Catholic San Francisco.

The SVdP e-commerce address is http://svdpsm.org/shoponline where you can buy books, designer pieces, collectibles and more, according to SVdP.

The society’s five iconic and well-run thrift stores remain a very important part of the picture giving away more than $360,000 in merchandise to the poor each year as well as providing income to the program from everyday shoppers.

Corporate partners are now also part of the landscape most recently Bank of America on “SVdP Books 4 Hope” through Nov. 30. The company has allowed receptacles for book donations in its 18 Peninsula locations.

“This is a new and very exciting program for us,” Moriarty said. “Bank of America is our first corporate partner with this initiative and we are in conversation with many other companies.”

Bank of America employees were first volunteers with SVdP becoming interested in their work and how the organization battles poverty head-on.

“The result is we will receive donated books from Bank of America branches and Bank of America clients will get to know more about SVdP’s mission,” Moriarty said. “This venture is a shining example of creative partnerships with organizations who know the local issues and want to make a difference.”

Many of the donated books will be sold online and in the thrift stores. “Others, particularly children’s books, will be distributed by Vincentian volunteers when they go out on their home visits to bring food or rent or utility assistance to the precariously housed,” Moriarty said.”

SVdP conference-based volunteers make over 10,000 home visits annually in San Mateo County and last year SVdP served 28,000 individuals including children. SVdP homelessness prevention assistance in the form of rent and utility payments annually exceeds $500,000.

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