Sunday 28 April 2013
Vinnies is short for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a worldwide Catholic charitable aid organisation run by volunteers. It was originally a French organsisation, founded in the mid-19th century by a young French lawyer, to work in the slums of Paris. Nowadays it operates in slightly different ways in different countries, but always its focus is the poor, the needy and the homeless. We have a local connection in the Touraine to the early days of the Society, as Léo Dupont, a lawyer living in Tours, was a significant contributor to the work and funds of the Society. He became known as the Holy Man of Tours and his house is now owned by the Catholic Church and has become a place of pilgrimage.
Op Shop is short for Opportunity Shop, or what would be called a Charity Shop in the UK. Funds raised from the sale of the donated goods go towards funding Vinnies charitable activities. There is no exact equivalent of this type of outlet for donations to charity in France. The closest is Emmaüs, which does not have shops, but instead has periodic gigantic sales in large venues such as trade exhibition centres. Colin and Elizabeth describe attending one on their blog In and Around Braye-sous-Faye.
Update: Apparently Emmaüs does have retail outlets -- see comments below.