Helping others: Bowbells clothing pantry opens to serve families in need

BOWBELLS – A children’s clothing pantry has opened in a Sunday school classroom at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Bowbells to serve needy families in the area, said Kiara Crosby, a member of the group Bowbells Women Helping Others.

Crosby said the group does not need donations of clothing from the public but will gladly accept monetary donations so it can purchase new children’s clothing in the right sizes for people who use the pantry. People who want to donate can call the Burke County Social Services Office at 377-2313 for more information.

The children’s clothing pantry will be open from 2 to 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. It will be open on the same day as the town’s food pantry. Volunteers from the Bowbells Women Helping Others group will run the clothing food pantry, and the group also hopes to get volunteers from the church’s youth group to help out.

The clothing pantry will serve children from babies through teenagers.

The children’s clothing pantry got its start when women started noticing the need in the community.

“We just knew there was a need,” said Crosby, who works at the school in Bowbells. She said the social services agency had noticed some families were coming in for assistance with children who weren’t appropriately dressed for North Dakota’s cold temperatures. Infants were coming in with just a onesie on in the middle of the winter, said Crosby. Other families from out of state might have coats for their children, but they would not be warm enough for below zero temperatures.

Bowbells, like other communities in northwestern North Dakota, has attracted people new to the area who are seeking work in the oil fields. Several of the families are wives and children of oil workers who might live in man camps during the week but didn’t want to raise their families in the heart of oil country.

“They come from all over,” said Crosby, who said she’s noticed that several of the new people in town come from Idaho, but that there are others from all over the country.

Bowbells has lost some of its businesses over the past few years and no longer has a Chamber of Commerce, so the Bowbells Women Helping Others group does some of the activities that a Chamber of Commerce might in other towns.

Crosby said that it took some time to find an appropriate location for the children’s clothing pantry. The Bethlehem Lutheran Church council was gracious enough to allow the clothing pantry to be located there, and Burke County Social Services will also be working closely with the organization to serve its clients.

They will know more about the level of need in the community once the clothing pantry has been open for a few months. They then will be able to better tailor its offerings for the people who use it, Crosby said.