A clothing swap is a simple concept: Stake and community members donate gently used clothing, shoes, and accessories; volunteers fold and sort items; then doors open to everyone to take what they want.
Rachel Hanchett attended a clothing swap with her sister several years ago. She saw the benefit for all who participated. Those who donated felt good about their unneeded items going to others who could use them, and “shoppers” provided for their families’ clothing needs at no cost.
She shared the concept with her stake Relief Society president, and, for the past three years, the Mesa Skyline Stake has held a clothing swap each summer. Rachel, a member of the Noble Ward, says, “I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the organizing committee, and I don’t think I could even attempt to put a number on the people helped … it grows bigger every year.”
The Mesa Citrus Heights stake clothing exchange started about 10 years ago with 10 tables of only kids’ clothes. This year, they filled 36 tables and 12 extra-long clothing racks and over 200 families attended the event. Each year, on Friday morning of the weekend before school starts, those with clothing, backpacks and school items to donate drop them off and sisters begin sorting and placing everything on tables and racks.
Stake Relief Society president, Candi Davis, says “On Saturday morning our shoppers come, including many of [those] that donated the day before. The payoff is watching families fulfill their clothing needs without spending a dime.”
The Alta Mesa Stake has an eight-year tradition of holding a clothing/gently used household items swap in conjunction with the September General Women’s Meeting.
Angela Nelson, the stake Relief Society president, says “This has not only been a great service project for the sisters in our stake, but has become a helpful missionary tool. Our attendance at the broadcast has been increasing every year, as well.”
At the conclusion of the broadcast, they open up the cultural hall and invite all the women eight years old and up to “shop.”
Mindy Lamb, of the Baywood Ward, has served in a leadership role for Mesa Skyline Stake’s exchange.
“I have found, in my two years of being involved with the swap, how generous and kind people really are. The first year, my biggest worry was having enough donations of clothing … That year we received more clothes than ever. This [year], I worried about having enough volunteers to help sort—we had more than enough, and some were there for every sorting shift.”
Their stake hosts a blood drive in conjunction with the clothing swap. “We enlisted the help of the missionaries to help sort clothing, but also to run the blood drive. Where the missionaries are, so is the spirit,” Mindy says.
Clothing swaps are not for the Relief Society only. Young Men and Young Women of the Mesa Alma Stake recently held a “Back to School Clothing Exchange” as part of their emphasis of this year’s Mutual theme “Embark in the Service of God.”
Any items left over at the end of these swaps are donated to Deseret Industries and area shelters.