Everyone loves a bargain, and it's even better when it is free.

The contents of thousands of banana boxes full of good quality clothing will be given away, so get ready for a dose of "Vinnies Vogue". There are designer brands and retro items, and even Kathmandu puffer jackets in the mix. The only catch is that you'll have to take time for a serious browse.

Lorna Edlin, Western Bay of Plenty Area Manager of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, says there are hundreds of items of clothing in their Parkvale warehouse. They are all donations that have come through the organisation's op-shops in Mount Maunganui, Greerton, and on Cameron Rd. We've spotted I Love Ugly jeans, Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker dresses and great quality merino.

All the clothes are clean and sorted and Edlin is expected a crowd.


"We won't turn anyone away, but if someone turns up with a truck and starts loading the clothes in, we will stop that. Of course there is a difference between greedy and needy, but having said that, I want people from our community to come and help themselves."

Part of being a Vincentian is finding and helping people in need, and Edlin says people shouldn't feel shame to use their service. Lots of her clients are working people, and they are struggling even if they employed, finding it difficult to afford the cost of housing, taking care of children, and food.

"The level of poverty is worse than ever. When I started working here some years ago, we used to see about 10 people a day. Now the office sees up to 70 people each day that need help. At the moment, there are thousands of families in the Western Bay who we help," she says.

Recent cases included a grandmother who came into one of the stores with a teenager.

"She could hardly walk without assistance. Turned out she was sole carer for several grandchildren whose parents were unable to look after them. We are able to help with simple things like uniforms and food, but they are things that make a real difference."

Another recent case involved helping a working mother and her family escape an abusive relationship.

"Women's Refuge was full, and she was desperate. The children were actually in danger.

No questions asked we moved them that night and helped them with rent and food until they got back on their feet. A while later I got the most beautiful letter thanking us for being there at the lowest time in her life. There is no judgment or shame in asking for help. We all have our low points. Part of being a community is helping each other through those low points."


The Society of St Vincent de Paul is a Catholic organisation, but they help anyone of any culture, age, or religion. Every morning, the Cameron Rd office gives out hot pies to anyone who needs it. Sometimes hungry children come, and the Vinnies don't judge. They just help, no questions asked.

"We even get criticised at times for giving out pies, as they are not healthy. Mate, if you are starving and cold, you don't want a salad," Edlin says.

She explains they are not holding the free clothing sale because of Marie Kondo, but due to the fact they have lots of clothing, and want to give back to the community this way.

A NZ fire service team has offered to help with putting out the thousands of boxes, and any other strong man or woman is welcome to give them a hand. There will also be a free sausage sizzle on the day, put on by Young Vinnies team at Aquinas College.

Clothes for those in need

What: Community Free Clothing Sale
Where: 67 Courtney Rd, Row B, Gate Pa
When: March 23, 10am-2pm
All clothing is free, but please bring a bag.

There will be secondhand furniture for sale on the day in the society's showroom on Courtney Rd which is available to purchase for "a bargain", and for this the society will provide Eftpos and deliveries.