It's been brewing for a while. I've been feeling like there is so much more we are supposed to be doing. I want My Little Jules to be more than just another kids clothing boutique. I want our business to have a purpose, to give back and do good. I am a mother of two, so anything that has to do with children hits close to home, especially kids who have been neglected or abused.
We had a few boxes of access inventory that I wanted to donate, I just needed to find the right place. I've searched for foster homes in Tampa Bay area and one particular home caught my attention - A Kids' Place of Tampa Bay. What stood out the most was their focus on keeping siblings together and providing warm home-like environment for children of all ages, newborn through 17 years. So, I gave them a call and Peter and I headed out the next day.
I really didn't know what to expect. I am a very sensitive person, especially when it comes to kids. But when we walked through the doors of A Kids' Place of Tampa Bay, boy, were we surprised with what we saw! We were greeted by friendly, welcoming staff members in the inviting reception area. We noticed a cake and wrapped presents waiting for the birthday celebration later that day. Mary Berg, Resource Specialist at A Kids' Place, walked out to greet us and give us a tour of the facility.
First, we entered a large recreation room with a giant tree house, cute play kitchen, Xboxes and plenty of sitting. We walked through a hallway past administration offices and a therapy room with a sign that read "In session." We passed a cozy library full of books. Then, we checked out a donation room with shelves filled with blankets and pillows and rows of clothing of all sizes. Everything was neatly organized. And although most donated items are used, A Kids' Place believes that each child deserves new socks, undies and pajamas.
After the donation room, we walked back to take a look at the huge playground area with an oversized wagon in the middle for kids to climb on, swings, bikes and tons of other outdoor toys. The playground is framed by cute little cottages. Each hosts 12 children and house parents, who are husband and wife. Mery told us a story about a house parents couple who fell in love with the children they were caring for and ended up adopting three of them. She talked about the kids who come in, what kind of circumstances they come from, how they adjust, their daily routines and all the help and support A Kids' Place provides. As she talked, we looked at the children playing outside. We saw houseparents pushing them on the swings, giving them hugs and doing all the things a parent would do.
It was a sad experience but it also filled us with hope. The staff members were really excited about the outfits we dropped off. Most of them were everyday outfits, but we also included special occasion dresses by Ooh La La Couture, Giggle Moon, Peaches'n'Cream and Moxie and Mabel (now Magpie and Mabel). Those dresses will be used as Easter and birthday dresses. Out of all of them, Ooh La La denim tutu dress was a huge hit.
On the way back Peter and I talked about how we can incorporate charitable work into our business. And even though we don't have a concrete plan yet, I know it will become an important part of what we do here at My Little Jules.
Thanks for reading!
Owner, My Little Jules boutique