Papillion boutique provides free clothes to kids in foster care

A new nonprofit is working to ensure foster kids in the Omaha metro have access to clothing and other supplies they might need.

In June, Amber Richardson founded Foster Love, a nonprofit boutique that provides free clothing to foster children transitioning into new homes. On Saturday, January 23 the nonprofit will launch its first free clothing boutique event in downtown Papillion.

Richardson said she understands it can be difficult for kids in foster care to have access to adequate clothing. When she first became a foster parent in 2007, her now adopted son, arrived with all of his clothes and personal possessions crammed inside a single trash bag.

“I know it didn’t just happen to our son, who was later adopted to us. In the community, this is not an uncommon thing, of kids being moved from home to home with just a single black trash bag,” Richardson said.

Richardson said it’s not uncommon for children in foster care to be transitioned from home to home with very few pieces of clothing. She said oftentimes those clothing items that have become stained, faded or something the child has outgrown.

“In the beginning when kiddos are first placed with families, families are wanting to bond, they want to attach. The last thing they want to be worrying about is how can I go get clothes? If you are open to [fostering] kiddos five to fifteen, it’s just not realistic to have that many sizes available for males and females,” Richardson said.

Foster Love has partnered with the Papillion Community Foundation to host a two-day shopping event in a storefront downtown. Richardson is currently running the boutique out of her home by appointment only. She said she hopes to find a permanent storefront for Foster Love later this year.

“They can come in, they can shop the latest trends; Shop the clothes that make them feel confident, that fit their personality,” Richardson said.

Foster families can sign up for a 30 minute appointment to shop for essentials like clothes, shoes, undergarments, diapers, hygiene supplies and books. Richardson said clothing and other supplies will be available for children ranging from newborns to 18 years old.

Families involved foster care, kinship care or those who have an assigned case worker are welcome to attend the event. Richardson said families will not have to bring paperwork to the shopping event, but will need to provide contact information for their case manager when signing up for an appointment.

Richardson said she hopes this will help ease foster parent’s stress and give kids a confidence boost.

“Fashion is a statement of who you are. It shows people’s personality,” Richardson said. “To see a kid walk out of the room, which we are hoping this is our first shopping day, light up and be excited about their Elsa shirt or their beautiful dress or their new Nike high tops is something that I’m so excited to see.”

Foster families will be able to shop for what they need at the Papillion Community Foundation building at 109 N Washington Street on Saturday, January 23 and Sunday January 24 from noon until 5 p.m.

Anyone interested in signing up for the shopping event, volunteering, or making a donation to Foster Love can find more information on the nonprofit’s website.