“This used to be the fun bar,” says Roger Boyko as we tour the building with its cattle-branded walls. “At least that is what they say,” he adds with a chuckle. The building is inviting, clean and well organized. Roger is showing me around the Community Clothing Share Exchange in Turtle Lake, North Dakota.
When Judy Boyko first heard the question If your church doors closed today, would it be missed in your community? it sparked a desire to begin a new community outreach program. It was January 2017, and Judy and Karen Boyko decided to start the Community Clothing Share Exchange with the Turtle Lake Church.
At first, the church opened its doors twice a month to give away used clothing to anyone in need. “It started small but grew quickly,” explains Judy. “The basement area was no longer able to contain the clothing donated for giveaway. The time spent to set up and put away was beginning to be a big job as well, so the need for a different location was becoming evident.”
Several businesses had closed on Main Street—a bowling alley, a hardware store and a bar—all owned by the bank. When the bank was contacted, the price tag was too daunting, so they continued searching.
“As inquiries were made, a huge surprise and blessing awaited us,” says Judy. “The bank offered us a building on Main Street totally free to house our clothing ministry!” It was the bar.
The church board met and accepted the offer. “It has been good,” says Karen. “The whole idea of the clothing outreach is necessary. It worked out for us to be able to start in the church basement, but now we have our church back each week.”
In addition to material donations, monetary donations have also been given. A club in Turtle Lake decided to disband, but still had money in a bank account. The club voted to give the funds to the Clothing Exchange.
One challenge has been the distance church members live from town. Turtle Lake is a unique church, as the closest member lives 15 miles from Turtle Lake.
“We are working together as best we can, as scattered as we are,” says Judy. “All church members have helped as they are able, whether with cleaning, painting or sorting.”
At the Community Clothing Share Exchange, a mother with three children comes in. Glenn Boyko guides them through the store. “This has been so needed,” the mother states. They seem to have a hard time believing the clothes are free. “It is fun to do and to see the joy in the children’s eyes,” says Karen.