A small team of Fife volunteers helped more than 200 people through lockdown, with a little help from Facebook.
This earned them enough money to provide food, toys and nappies to townsfolk throughout the pandemic.
The thrift shop closed last year due to Covid restrictions.
It came as a huge blow to workers who relied on the money it made to keep the community centre going.
But, undeterred, they came up with a new way of making money to ensure the community didn’t lose out.
Rio chairwoman Betty Martin said volunteers had worked tirelessly to make sure people were not hungry, lonely or bored.
“We were delivering food and other stuff to people who needed it but we didn’t have any money coming in,” she said.
“We decided to sell the thrift shop donations on Facebook marketplace and that kept us going.
“To be honest, we couldn’t have kept going if it wasn’t for Facebook.
“It’s been unreal and we made about £500 a week.”
People kept thinking there’s not that need here but they were wrong.”
Betty has decided to keep going with Facebook marketplace, even though the thrift shop has finally reopened.
It is now based at the community centre in St Mary’s Lane, rather than High Street, in a bid to keep costs down.
“We can put any extra money towards the holiday club during the summer,” she said.
Need has not gone away
Betty and her team were a godsend to many in Newport during lockdown.
As well as providing food, they gave out nappies, toys and sweets to children.
They also organised shopping deliveries to those who were shielding, chatted to people who live alone on their doorsteps and held music events in the garden of a sheltered housing complex.
“People kept thinking there’s not that need here but they are wrong,” said Betty.
“Not everyone here has money and there were also a lot of people shielding who needed help.
“That need hasn’t gone away.”
Posted by Rio Newport on Tuesday, April 20, 2021
She added: “We’ve really worked hard to keep everybody going. It’s been good for the community as well.
“At one point we did a click and collect and people came to the front door for what they needed.”
“We were helping everybody in the community.
“It didn’t matter where they were on the ladder, we just thought it would be nice to let people know we were there for them.”
Mental health and recovery
Now that lockdown is over, the spotlight has turned to helping people recover.
“We’re now involved in men’s mental health,” said Betty.
“It’s particularly affected men in their 40s and 50s who were furloughed or lost their jobs.”
The centre has computers to help people look for jobs and is planning to host art workshops over the summer where people can talk and relax.
Betty has been chairwoman of the Rio for 30 years and now has a team of 32 volunteers who help run the thrift shop.
It is now open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm.