DURING the East Timor crisis in the 1990s the Women's Guild of the Alpine Uniting Church in Jindabyne appealed to their local community for clothing. The response was huge. When the free transport by the Navy stopped, however, the clothes kept coming in, so the manse garage became an Op-Shop for the next few years.
Unable to afford a shop front downtown, in 2001, inspired by the incumbent pastor Grahame Abrahams and his wife Fran, a 1978 Sydney bus was purchased. It was converted into AMOS, our Alpine Mobile Op-Shop; and in July of that year, with the blessing of the then Moderator, Margaret Reeson, AMOS went on the road.
AMOS was accepted as a truck rather than a bus by the RTA, for registration purposes. Our first drivers were all women, coached by Bruce Hodges, Church Council chairman at that time.
The girls eventually shamed men into also getting their "medium-rigid" licences.
In the 12 years since, AMOS became a district icon. Thanks to the generousity of the local community the shop has been able to recycle good cheap clothing for the local populace, for the many single mums in town and for the mass of needy workers who flood into Jindabyne each ski season with little money but high hopes.
A garage and store was built for the project with a grant from the Uniting Church Synod. AMOS enjoyed shelter for a few years until the garage section was ceded to a Men's Shed project. With a further grant from UnitingCare Southeastern the men have moved to a separate shed out at the airport.
The generosity of folk in the district continues with the twice-weekly opening of the Op-Shop at the Uniting Church on Gippsland St, Wednesdays and Saturdays 10am to 2pm. After much sorting of the offered clothing, a big range of high quality goods is made available at prices that shame many other such outlets in the area, and we give thanks both to our suppliers and to God for this ongoing community service we are able to provide.
Excess clothing is provided to Sydney and Canberra based distributors of clothing to the needy, and as the partnership with the Anglican Church grows, so does the involvement of volunteers from both churches.
AMOS, meanwhile, is off to Yass, where he will provide a similar service for that region, and we wish him well in his new surrounds. Vale, AMOS.
So long, AMOS
Elder, Alpine Uniting Church.