Charity shops fund education of 5,000 poor Filipinos

Caritas project in Manila says buying is the best way of giving

Joe Torres  UCAN

A priest in Manila is urging Catholics not only to give and help the poor during the Lenten season, but also to shop and buy.

“Our dictum is buying is the new way of giving,” said Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, the social action arm of Manila Archdiocese.

The priest said the Lenten season is the “best time” to practice alms giving “not only in cash but also in kind.”

“The more you give the more that you will receive,” said Father Pascual joked.

He is encouraging Catholics to donate items like clothes, accessories, appliances, and school supplies that can still be recycled and reused.

“Let others inherit your second-hand items,” said the priest.

Father Pascual is literally getting his hands dirty collecting donations that are later sold in Caritas Manila’s charity shops dubbed “Segunda Mana.”

The donations-in-kind project, which started eight years ago, is doing “good business,” he said.

The social enterprise project collects in-kind donations from Catholics that are converted to cash after being sold in more than two dozen Segunda Mana charity shops around the national capital.

The income from the sale of the donated items is used for the education of poor students and to finance livelihood projects in poor communities.

In 2016, Caritas Manila was able to finance the college education of at least 5,000 students under the church’s Youth Servant Leadership and Education Program.

Father Pascual said from an estimated US$1.4 million worth of goods donated last year, Caritas Manila was able to raise about US$500,000 in profit.

This year the priest targets US$2 million worth of donations which he expects to bring in about a million dollars in income for the project.

“All the money goes to finance our education program,” Father Pascual told ucanews.com.

He said the project was conceptualized “to challenge the culture of generosity and stewardship among Filipinos.”

“We want to tell Filipino Catholics that they can also share things that they do not use or want with others,” said the priest.

Most of the donations Caritas Manila receives are inventories and old stock from factories and shopping centers, and used items from individuals.

“We clean, repair, recycle, and sell it,” said the priest, adding that they are planning to replicate the project in the provinces.

“It’s part of our response to the call of Pope Francis to address the culture of consumption,” said Father Pascual.

He said consumption can be “balanced” with generosity and the “spirit of stewardship,” which is being promoted by the archdiocese.

Shopping while helping the poor should be a way for those who want to make the Lenten season meaningful, said the priest.

Segunda Mana stores offer inexpensive items, including clothes, shoes, bags, furniture, appliances, toys, books, and even grocery items that offer discounts of up to 50 percent.

Merchandise includes brand new items donated by manufacturers.

The first Segunda Mana store opened at Caritas Manila’s headquarters in 2009. Today, there are 25 outlets and several ambulant stores near churches.

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