Clothing exchange brings ‘recycled treasures’ to southeastern Sask. First Nation

From raising her own children, Amanda McArthur knows how fast a family can go through clothes — and especially when it comes to winter wear and good-quality items, that isn’t cheap.

So McArthur, who lives on White Bear First Nation, decided to start Rosie’s Recycled Treasures — an exchange for gently used clothing — in her basement. 

McArthur says the idea for Rosie’s Recycled Treasures began a couple of years ago, after a conversation with a co-worker about memories of growing up on White Bear. The community — about 190 kilometres southeast of Regina — used to have a clothing exchange organized by the Catholic church, where anybody could come in and take what they needed.

“I remember growing up as a young girl and just being curious, and just loving the fact that I had the accessibility to all the clothes,” said McArthur. “And this time right now in the COVID era … it just occurred to me, I have the time.”

She got some clothing racks and tables, “and I cleared out my basement [to] set up for Rosie’s Recycled Treasures,” McArthur said.

Then the donations started rolling in. Community members brought over clothes they didn’t need anymore, the local food bank sent over “boxes and boxes and boxes” of items collected in their winter clothing drive, and a second-hand thrift shop in a neighbouring community sent her their overstock.

“My racks are full,” said McArthur. “It took me weeks to separate the spring and summer clothing from the winter wear.”

Donations for Rosie’s Recycled Treasures have been coming from local businesses and organizations, as well as community members. (Submitted by Amanda McArthur)

Now, McArthur says one of her biggest challenges is just letting people know that Rosie’s Recycled Treasures is open and available to them. 

“I have had a few ladies come down and take bags of clothing, but just getting the word out to everybody in the community — because it is a big community, there are quite a few band members — is the biggest challenge right now,” she said. 

When people do come to Rosie’s Recycled Treasures, McArthur wants them to feel welcome to just take what they need.

“When I have people come, I just show them around,” she said. “This is children’s, this is menswear, here’s jeans, here’s ski pants, here’s jackets. And then I leave them.

“I will go upstairs and I’ll say, ‘If you need anything just holler at me, and please take your time,’ because I don’t want them to feel like … [they’re] intruding just because they’re in my home. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable.”

In the future, McArthur says she would love to see Rosie’s Recycled Treasures be part of a larger community hub where people could come to access all sorts of programs, support and connection.

In the meantime, she is planning to keep making sure her neighbours can be well outfitted for every season and occasion.

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