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"It Had Nothing to Do with the Clothes" - The Story of Xchange

Do you know the history of our Xchange Ministry?

This ministry really “had nothing to do with the clothes”. When we asked Tawnya Hons what the ministry meant to her, this was her reply:

“I am thankful I had the opportunity to participate in the initial launch of this ministry. It taught me most about what it means to ‘receive’. It’s easy to stay separated from the people you serve by thinking you are meeting their needs. But I was serving people that had the same needs as me – to clothe their children. In humbling myself to ‘receive’ the same as those I served, it changed my life. I have interpreted the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in John 13 through this. I think I often found myself, in my mind, arrogantly playing the role of Jesus and washing everyone else’s feet. What a difference it made to put myself in the role as His follower. Then instead of facing the people I served, I find myself sitting alongside them, facing Him and ‘receiving’ what He offers.”

The Xchange Ministry was started by Janna Hart in the fall of 2017. This is how Janna describes the inception of Xchange:

“I (Janna) was part of a mom’s group and 2 times a year (usually in the spring and fall) we would gather and have a swap. One mom would open up her house for a 4-hour time span and people (moms AND kids) would come and go as they pleased. Everyone brought something to snack on and we swapped stuff. Clothing for women and children, toys, books, household items, accessories, sporting goods – really ANYTHING could be brought to the swap! It was a great time of community building and connection, but so infrequent. I took over the role of hostess a few times and thought how awesome it would be to have something more regular in the community to allow families to swap things with each other and build relationships.

The Nagel House on the SCCC property was not really being used for anything except Alpha at the time, so in the fall of 2017, Tawnya Hons and I started putting feelers out for interest and items. My aunt had just passed away and left me some funds. She was a woman who was so generous and giving. I knew she would support the Xchange idea and so we used the money to buy clothing and shoe racks, a few mirrors and bins to store the clothing. In addition, a dear friend put me in touch with the owner of a local consignment store who donated some of the items from their store that didn’t sell. The combination of community and consignment donations created a treasure trove for women and their families to come and shop each week. This created opportunities to get to know one another, to reduce waste by reusing clothing items and to fill a need in our community.”

Tawnya had attended the swaps in Janna’s home and loved it because it clothed her children, and sometimes herself, everyone got a toy and they got to meet other families. When Janna mentioned the possibility of running the swap some place other than her home, Tawnya joined in and the two of them started the ministry at the Nagel House. At the beginning, Xchange was open every Monday from 5 to 7 pm and later reduced to two Monday evenings a month.

A typical evening at Xchange went like this: they would arrive early to move the clothing out into the main room. Tawnya would have her children with her as her husband was still at work. She knew they would get hungry as the store hours for Xchange were during dinner time. Since food is something to be shared, Tawnya would make a large pot of chili with buns and veggies (or something of that sort) and offer a meal to anyone else shopping. Sometimes they prayed and ate as a family, sometimes others joined them. The feeling of home and family framed their evenings as they shared food, clothing and best of all conversation. At the end of the evening, they would move the clothes back into the room they were stored in and once everything was put away, they would find themselves with a large open space where they would frequently sit and pray before they went home. Tawnya mentioned this was probably the most precious part of her experience with Xchange.

In 2018, Tawnya was unable to continue to participate and in 2019, Janna stepped down from the ministry. At that time, Sharon Williams took over running Xchange. With the help from several church members and some of Sharon’s personal friends, they were able to continue to offer this ministry to the community until March 2020, when COVID forced us to close the doors and the decision was made to suspend the ministry. We may offer it again in the future but for the time being Xchange will be closed. With this decision came the daunting task of finding a new home for all the clothing and accessories we had accumulated over the years. One of the ministries SCCC supports, Narrow Road Home, had recently started a used clothing store in High River. We offered them the opportunity to come and chose whatever they would like from our collection and they were able to add some items to their store from our supply. The rest of the clothing was donated to the Women in Need Society. We are happy that the clothing was able to go to some worthy charities so it can be offered to those they help.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Janna, Tawnya, Sharon and all the other volunteers for the time and effort they put into the Xchange ministry. Their dedication was such a blessing to South Calgary and this community.

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