BATAVIA, Ohio — How people dress can change how they feel about themselves, raising or lowering their confidence. That’s Amy Vann’s firm belief and part of the reason she made it her mission to give kids confidence through clothing.
In 2017, Vann started Give Like A Mother, a nonprofit providing clothing assistance to children in need.
"We believe that our mission is not only to functionally clothe children," Vann said, "but to really reach their hearts and make them feel loved and valued by the quality and the style clothing we give."
The Clermont County-based charity started helping 28 kids who couldn’t afford clothes. This past year, they served more than 2,000.
In a tidy, organized warehouse in Batavia, Vann and her small army of interns and volunteers "shop" for outfits. The racks are set up like a department store and volunteers know the size and preferences of the child for which they are choosing outfits — like if they're a 12-year-old boy who doesn’t like the color blue with size 8 feet.
Because of donations from the community and key partnerships, each child gets five outfits.
"So they don’t have to repeat in a week," Vann said. "They get a coat, shoes and brand new packages of socks and underwear."
Vann said it matters that the kids get shoes that will not embarrass them.
"Somebody donated a brand new pair of Air Force Ones, which are really expensive," Vann said. “It matters — kids are mean and they get made fun of because they don't have ... what they like to wear when everyone else is wearing."
Vann’s hope is to one day have a large enough warehouse that the kids can come pick out the outfits they want themselves. She’s proud that they were able to help so many kids last year, but she knows she has just scratched the surface of need.
“Sometimes you look at the numbers, and it's very overwhelming, how many people need us and how many were able to serve, and it feels very insignificant,” Vann said. “And then you meet the kid that you see with your eyes and who cries because they got new underwear or the face of a mom that tells a story about their son who got beat up because he had Walmart shoes on, and then you think, doesn't matter how many numbers we have, they're all children with hearts and minds and we're making a difference.”
Vann said she believes if kids feel confident in the clothes and shoes they’re wearing, they will want to attend school and will have a better shot a success.
Give Like A Mother depends on donations of gently used clothing, and Vann and her staff are picky about what they keep, but she promises that everything donated will find a home, whether it’s with the children she’s helping or through another charity. Anyone interested in donating time, money or items can go to the Give Like A Mother website.
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