We all need community, whether it’s someone to talk with or help others with their everyday lives. Community is like a home that allows everyone to feel safe and as one.
During the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs and find it difficult to get essential needs and clothing for their families. The Coachella Valley has many non-profit organizations that help people who need food, clothes and shelter.
Pastor Melissa Walker is devoted to helping people in need. She also takes great pride in giving back to others. For 8 years, she has been helping people through her nonprofit organization called The Great Exchange.
The Great Exchange started in Yucca Valley but recently moved to Rancho Mirage. The Great Exchange accepts clothing donations from people and allows for others in need to pick from the collection they have received. Walker said it is overwhelming to see so much support from the community. She also said there are people who need help.
“Not everyone has a perfect life. Some have trauma from they’ve lost things, or even during this time, people have lost their jobs or they don’t have clothes for an interview,” said Walker.
As the pandemic took its toll on everyone, the non-profit slowed down to ensure their recent move would be as smooth as possible. Since the Great Exchange has moved to Rancho Mirage, it has been difficult because it only has a large storage unit.
“I feel like using what’s in your hands. Just do what you have to do with, and God will bless that,” said Walker.
Even though all the donated clothes are in a storage unit, they are working with churches to help display and give out clothes to those in need.
As the seasons change from winter and summer, then vice versa, she is very understanding of people’s needs to change over time. Allowing people to get the clothes they need for that specific time of year. Even though people may take clothes, Walker said she “Encourages people to bring something because everyone has stuff in their closet they don’t ever wear, but it could be something that helps someone else.”
While she encourages people to bring clothes, she understands that not everyone is able to exchange. This makes this nonprofit so helpful because they understand everyone’s situation.
Walker also helps homeless and drug addicts. They may not have a roof over their head or have a normal way of life, but they need help. Walker said, “I found that they become very accustomed to just everybody doing stuff for them. So, I try to get them to bring one piece of clothing in that they may wear or like, as long as it’s in good shape.”
We must help homeless people and people who are having difficult times because no one’s life is ever perfect, and some need extra help.
COD student and a Great Exchange volunteer, Meriah Hackett, said, “It’s definitely hard to see some of the people who come through, but that makes me happy. It can be difficult to see people struggling to get new clothes and other things because you want to give them so much, but it’s important to think about small things in life because, for some people, it may be the best thing for others.”
The nonprofit may not be as large and established as other major nonprofits, but that’s what makes this community so special. “If anyone wanted to talk, a lot of people actually like to share what they are going through, but we listen because I know for some people it helps,” said Hackett.
Even after their recent move, the Great Exchange has not stopped helping the community, still giving back to others the best they can.
“Most people take shirts and pants, but they can even get socks, purses and shoes,” Hackett concludes.
The non-profit is in need of a building to help them display and store all of the clothes and other donated items. They are in desperate need of large capacity washers, dryers and shelves.
If you are interested in donating, make sure all clothing is clean and in good condition. The nonprofit also needs volunteers. For more information, call or text Melissa Walker at 760-636-9234.