Last year more than 560 local kids went back to school dressed head to toe in brand new clothes, and many of those students had never owned new clothing before. Most of them are transitioning into the foster care system, with at least one parent in jail.
An Oregon City woman is working to help the kids build confidence by helping them look their best.
When Patti Serres isn't tending to the plants and flowers at her namesake nursery, she can be found different kinds of seeds in her community and working to reap a harvest of changed lives in her store, the Bloomin' Boutique.
The boutique, located at 19376 Molalla Avenue Suite 160, doesn't sell anything. It provides new things for free.
"We don't do anything but new, we have donors that believe in that. We have bedding, we have underwear, we have socks, coats and dresses," said Serres.
Formed in 2015, under the non-profit Building Blocks 4 Bids, the Bloomin' Boutique offers a high-end shopping experience, for kids who are infants to high school seniors and often have nothing.
"It's the kids who kind of slip through the system and they need clothes, they don't have bedding, don't have toiletries," explained Serres.
"When someone comes in and they don't have anything, and their shoulders are all rolled in and they don't know what to think, and then they walk out brand with all new. The 40 minutes changed that child, it's amazing what it does for that child," Serres told FOX 12.
The Bloomin' Boutique helps children like Treasure. She's now a 4.0 student who just finished up her freshman year at Western Oregon University.
She's come a long way-and said Serres and the rest of the Bloomin' Boutique gang played a big part in that.
"I've become a lot more confident, being able to work with them and learn how to advocate for myself and now I'm here at college with is crazy to think about," Treasure told FOX 12.
Marianne Kersten with Northwest Family Services worked with Treasure for years, starting when she was a freshman in high school.
Kersten said Treasure's family dynamic was hard: "Dad is serving a life sentence and mom struggles with her own demons and she was made homeless her second year of high school."
So Kersten turned to Serres. "When I called her and said they've been evicted out of her house, Patti was able to get her bedding within a couple hours. She had nothing. Literally nothing. But Patti got her bedding and new clothes."
Treasure said it was a confidence booster: "It was really awesome because I could wear what I wanted and had clothes that didn't label me as a poor child"
Hundreds and hundreds of kids who come in the shop every year can relate to Treasure's story. But Serres is convinced it's much bigger than new duds, there's a change that happens in that shopping spree.
"It warms our hearts, Building Blocks 4 Kids, because we've seen it change her from that year she didn't have clothes or a pillow, and now is striving and feeling good about herself and has that confidence. She'll be back. She'll be serving with us some day, I know it," said Serres.
For her work with Bloomin' Boutique, Serres was presented the FOX 12 Les Schwab Tire Centers Be the Change award.
Bloomin' Boutique works with local agencies to coordinate shopping sprees for kids. For more information on the boutique, check out its website.
To nominate a person or group deserving of the Be the Change award, please go to KPTV.com/BeTheChange.
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