SASKATOON, Sask. — Twenty-four- year-old Andy Arthur remembers the April day in 2013 that a factory full of garment workers collapsed in Bangladesh. As the death toll escalated, and he did his job as assistant at Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) thrift shop in Saskatoon, he wondered what he could do to help people so far away.
Then he realized he was already doing that.
“I’m reselling clothing so people don’t have to go out and buy new clothes from companies using cheap labour. We’re raising money [for MCC] to help women in Bangladesh do textile work in their homes where they can be safe and with their children,” he says. “Every action is a part of something bigger.”
Arthur has since been promoted, and is part of a young and dynamic team of co-managers at MCC’s Village Green Thrift Shop in Saskatoon. (http://mcccanada.ca/thriftshops/canlocations)
Karen Ens, 33, and Sophia Kutsiuruba, 25, are the other two members of the team.
Kutsiuruba says the highlight of her day is meeting people who come to browse or buy, or just talk.
“There are people from diverse backgrounds and across the spectrum of income brackets and culture,” she says. “I see the humanity in all of these interactions. It’s my way of experiencing God.”
Ens agrees. “I am passionate about making Christ known and serving Him. I get to make connections with people and help those who are in great need.”
Erica Baerwald is the coordinator of MCC’s thrift shops in Saskatchewan. She’s thankful for the dedication of older managers and volunteers who have built a solid foundation at thrift shops. And she’s delighted that a new generation of younger people is joining the network.
“They have a passion that’s exciting. Their energy inspires me.”
Kutsiuruba describes her generation as sometimes cynical and non-committal. But says many young people are searching for a way to connect with the mission of agencies such as MCC.
“For example, caring for the environment and reusing things, these are inherent to thrift stores and you don’t have to sell that to young people,” she says. “There are a lot of them with energy to direct at things. They just may not know where to start.”
Arthur says perhaps the most important thing that MCC can offer to his generation is hope.
“You watch the news and say this world is so messed up, why do we even try,” he says. “But then you see that when we work together as a community, as a world, good things happen. Just those little moments of sharing hope can encourage young people to keep working at something.”
To learn more about how to get involved with MCC visit http://mcccanada.ca/getinvolved, or call your local MCC office.
Julie Bell is senior writer with MCC Canada