10 March 2023
People doing it hard in the Dandenong Ranges will be able to access shower facilities thanks to an Anglican church’s food aid initiative.
The Food Store at St Luke’s Cockatoo has made a bathroom available for anybody in need who was unable to access suitable facilities.
Volunteer Karen Collins said the amenity which opened in February was previously an unused part of the building but had been overhauled through the support of community and local business donations.
Run by volunteers since 2019, the store provides free food and groceries to disadvantaged people.
Ms Collins said the initiative which operated throughout the pandemic had grown since it opened, and estimated that between 50 and 60 customers sought food assistance during operating hours.
She said they often included people who were experiencing homelessness or housing stress, and that volunteers wanted to be able to give those who wanted to shower and freshen, up the space to do so.
“It’s amazing how many people are sleeping in their cars in the area, or even using some campsites in the nearby national parks where they just don’t have facilities,” Ms Collins said.
Although the food store only opened on Mondays, Ms Collins said she expected that the amenity would also be made available after Sunday services if people needed it, and possibly at other times.
Ms Collins, who was also donating unused towels and other bathing items to the facility, said she and her husband helped out at the store whenever they could, and found it very worthwhile.
“We find that we build up good relationships with people from many walks of life,” she said.