The annual Little Flower Catholic Youth Organization rummage sale brought a steady stream of customers to the Little Flower Church basement on March 11 and 12.
Members of the youth group prepared the basement with long tables filled with clothes, shoes, books, and other assorted items, then stood ready to help customers who browsed through the inventory.
Lisa Volk, CYO coordinator, said of the sale, “There was a huge amount of support from the community.”
Volk and CYO members Carter Teigen, Zach Selensky, and Jacob Selensky joined Catholic missionaries for a meal of pizza and pop before they tackled the job of packing up unsold items to ship them to St. Anne’s Thrift Shop in Belcourt.
“I worked the first shift on Friday when we opened,” Volk said, adding when she went down to the basement, “The lunch room was half full. The doors were closed for the rummage sale and I thought they were having a meeting. I opened the doors and didn’t get the lights on and everyone started coming in. It was like Black Friday with Christmas shopping.
“I’m grateful for the support we’ve had not only from the donations from the community, but from the people who came to shop,” Volk added.
Volk said customers ranged from shoppers interested in odds and ends to people who’d suffered tragedies.
“There was a family that was here yesterday and they were doing quite a lot of shopping. I was told afterwards that they had had a fire in their home and they had nothing left,” Volk said. “So, it was shared with me that this was an opportunity for them to restore what they’d lost.”
Customers paid for their items with free-will donations.
“That way, people donated what they were able to and comfortable with,” Volk said. “We had an enormous amount of support.”
Teigen said he and two fellow members worked for the last part of the sale and were glad to help the missionaries.
Teigen added, like all CYO activities, the thrift store sale gives members an opportunity to put the church’s “Three S” mission of spiritual, social and service into action.
“We just started packing up and we still have some left,” Teigen said.
He said his family donated baby clothes they no longer needed and “everything from pajamas to sweatshirts and outside winter gear.”
Teigen said the CYO participates in other activities to help people in need.
He added, “What we do goes beyond helping the poor and underprivileged people. We do a lot of things for anyone who needs something to help them. We donate items to the Women’s Care Facility in Devils Lake to help with women and their unborn babies. We have a lot more ways that we help.”
The missionaries who came from Belcourt to pick up the rummage sale items had help from students with St. Paul’s Newman Center at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Asher Mercereau, an NDSU student volunteer said, “We have a recurring mission trip. I don’t know how long it’s been going on but I went on it last year and I’m leading it this year. It’s a really good time to give up part of your spring break to help out.”
Rev. David Brokke, associate pastor at St. Anne’s Mission, is a missionary for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, or SOLT, who serves the poor in communities throughout the world.
“We have 14 missionary volunteers who are up there in Belcourt and they help serve in a variety of capacities such as the thrift store,” Rev. Brokke said.
Rev. Brokke said although the SOLT missionaries help run the thrift shop, the idea to establish it came from Turtle Mountain resident Sandra Champagne.
“The main person who’s in charge of the thrift store is Sandra Champagne — she’s our mom; she’s our cook; she’s everybody to us,” Rev. Brokke said. “She’s amazing. She’s from the Turtle Mountains and she thought the store would be a good way to serve the community as well as benefit the church.
“As an example of the work she’s done, last year, by selling items priced 25 cents to $1, two years ago, she made $6,000 for the church,” Rev. Brokke said. “This year, it was $11,000. So, every Wednesday and every first Saturday of the month, people are lining up to get items from the thrift store.”
“I think the store provides a necessary service for families who might be struggling through economic difficulties to help them have clothing for their kids or themselves, especially winter garments that might be a little bit harder to get in winter. Just to have that as a service to them is valuable,” Rev. Brooke said.
He said he was glad to be a part of the mission, “Just to see everyone there (in their work) is inspiring.”
Anna Hilb, who helps Champagne at the thrift store, also packed up unsold rummage sale items from the CYO rummage sale.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Hilb, an SOLT missionary from Alabama, said of her work. “It’s life-changing in a way. It’s exciting and scary, in a good way.”
Hilb said she helps Champagne “do a lot of sorting clothes and putting them out on the racks. Every Wednesday, we’re open, so we’re in there helping her, helping people, ringing them up and bagging clothes.”
Hilb said thrift shop customers appreciate the variety of items for sale.
“They don’t have a lot of options for clothes shopping,” Hilb said. “Walmart’s about 40 minutes away and here are dollar stores about 10 miles away.”
“On Wednesdays, the parking lot’s packed,” Hilb added. “And the clothes aren’t as expensive, because it’s a second-hand store. People can buy clothes for their children or themselves, or buy good shoes. We also give clothes to the homeless there and a lot of clothes go to (St. Anne’s Mission School) as well. We’ve sent a lot of snow pants, jackets, hats and gloves and shoes to the school for kids to use.
“It’s fun to go and look around,” Hilb added. “It’s something to do. Also, a lot of the people in the Belcourt community donate items, because they know how important it is for the help to go back out.”
St. Anne’s Thrift Shop is open the first Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. For more information, call (701) 477-5601.