[RE]FRESH combines foster kids and fashion

Alyssa Fritz and Maddy Mills volunteer at [Re]Fresh: A Fashion Coalition.

BY HANNAH CROPF, SOPHOMORE, LADUE HORTON WATKINS HIGH SCHOOL

A new store opening in Brentwood will take an unconventional approach to retail. At [Re]Fresh: A Fashion Coalition, a resale store benefitting the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, shoppers will have not only a world of reasonably-priced designer labels at their fingertips, but also a chance to make a difference for children in foster care.

“[Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition is] actually going to be working above the resale store, and all of the income generated from sale will go directly to our services that we provide,” said Jessi Brawley, Development and Community Relations Manager at Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition.

Besides bringing in revenue for the coalition, [Re]Fresh will benefit foster kids by catering to both their clothing and monetary needs. On designated days, the shop will open exclusively for foster children and families, during which time all items will be marked at reduced prices. The shop will open to the public on weekends with prices similar to other resale stores.

“Right now kids in foster care get an average of $340 a year per child for clothing allowance. That amount is a lot less than what’s actually needed. So by letting families buy clothes at a reduced price, we bridge that gap more,” Brawley said.

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The appeal of [Re]Fresh extends beyond its prices. Targeted at a young demographic, the store’s selection and interior design echo the style of fashion-forward chains such as Urban Outfitters. For all its aesthetic similarities, however, [Re]Fresh distinguishes itself from other stores by being more than that. From offering classes to youth in foster care to renting out space for parties, [Re]Fresh will provide both education and entertainment opportunities.

“[The store] will bring all of our programming under one roof,” Brawley said. “It’ll be a one-stop resource center for foster and adoptive families and youth, a community gathering place where families can access much-needed services like training, support groups, workshops, recruitment services.”

The Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition also intends to use [Re]Fresh to promote job training for foster children. According to Brawley, the shop will offer learning opportunities for teens in foster care.

“Through our Fostering Financial Success: [Re]Fresh program, older youth in foster care will receive hands-on training in the store to prepare them for future employment,” Brawley said. “[Re]Fresh will also offer training in job skills and a wide variety of things.”

As a resale store, most of the apparel sold at [Re]Fresh comes from members of the community. Even after the store opens, the demand will remain.

The Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition also looks to the public for help sorting clothes and setting up for opening day. Since the shop is geared toward teen shoppers, teen volunteers are especially valuable for selecting which of the donated clothes should make it to the store’s shelves. Hannah Jacks, an eighth grader at Ladue Middle School, has volunteered at [Re]Fresh with other teens for an event sponsored by Jewish Social Action Network and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

“Being part of setting up the store made me feel helpful. There were way more cool clothes than I expected,” Hannah said.

Joy Gage, a freshman at Clayton High School and [Re]Fresh volunteer, also found the experience positive. She especially appreciated the store’s unconventional take on volunteerism.

“What was really cool was applying our own personal interest-fashion- to helping foster kids our own age whom we could relate to,” Joy said.

Hannah believes other teens will find [Re]Fresh’s unique characteristics as both a store and a charity attractive. She expects a good turnout when the store opens.

[Re] Fresh will open its doors late spring (no date was determined at time of press), just as summer trends are trickling in. With its central location at 1710 South Brentwood Boulevard, a hip, urban vibe and a charitable cause, [Re]Fresh has set out to redefine the meaning of “smart shopping.”