WESTERN NEW YORK — If you ask any parent, and they will quickly tell that you raising kids is incredibly expensive. Kids seem to grow out of clothes as quickly as you buy them. Some parents really struggle just to keep up.
Foster Love Closet, a non-profit in western New York state, helps foster parents in a way that is making a serious impact.
Erin Richeal, Cheryl Flick, and Kara Brody, all foster parents themselves, knew they could do something to help.
They open their special “store” twice a week to help out some of the most at-need families in their area.
These incredible women started the Foster Love Closet because they learned firsthand the cost of fostering can quickly grow beyond what caregivers expected.
“We never know until we see the child what they come with. I’ve had extreme cases where they are dropped off in a diaper or a t-shirt. They come directly from the hospital,” Richeal shared with her local ABC affiliate.
Families that foster infants have even higher costs. These foster parents need baby clothes, car seats, cribs, highchairs, and a ton diapers — that’s not something that every family can whip up at a moment’s notice.
The donated clothing was originally collected and stored in the women’s homes. As the concept developed, it transformed into more of a shopping experience. The founders set up their new “store” in donated space at a nearby church.
Foster parents and children are able to take home the clothing of their choice free of charge. Each foster child can visit the “store” four times each year, or whenever they transition to a new home.
All foster parents need to do in order to access this incredible resource is to bring their placement papers and a photo ID.
The Foster Love Closet also collects and donates furniture to those foster families with a demonstrated need.
Every item in the store is new or gently used. All socks and underwear that Foster Love Closet accepts are brand new. Each and every article of clothing is on the shelves thanks to a caring member of the community.
Foster Love Closet stocks clothes for infants all the way to adult sizes to accommodate all children in foster care.
Since the store first opened its doors in August 2018, more than a hundred foster families have benefited from their generosity. Groups from around the community have made this possible: local schools, businesses, and civic organizations have contributed large donations of their own by publicizing big events like toy and diaper drives.
The Foster Love Closet is located at 1159 Town Line in Alden, New York. Their services are available on Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Foster children are encouraged to join their guardians at the store.
Those interested in additional information can visit the Foster Love Closet’s Facebook page.
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