BY AUSTIN DAVE / SCVNEWS.COM
Light rain fell over Newhall, as locals from across Santa Clarita celebrated the opening of a new clothing boutique.
The storm didn’t affect the turnout as hundreds sought shelter indoors in the new location Tuesday.
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The Main Street outlet, named The Closet, is a new venture for Single Mothers Outreach, a local nonprofit that helps single parents and their families.
“It’s a dream come true for Single Mothers Outreach,” said Executive Director DaAnne Smith.
The program has served more than 2,200 families on a number of different levels including clothing donations.
The staff empowers single parents and their children by providing hope, support and resources to help them become self-sustaining.
“We give eight pieces of clothing per family member per month, for free,” Smith said. “We always have more clothing than we have families to clothe.”
“We came up with this idea,” she said, “that if we could just sell our surplus clothing to raise money for our programs and services, (it would reduce) our dependence on fundraisers.”
Since 2008, SMO has collected donated garments and has run out of space at its 700-square-foot Canyon Country location on Ruether Avenue.
SMO leaders took to the streets in search for a new location - one with enough space to store donations and house the offices. They turned to local fashionista Margo Hudson for guidance.
Under Margo's direction, The Closet will provide unemployed and underemployed single parents an opportunity to learn retail management.
“Margo had been volunteering for us for quite some time,” Smith said. “When we told her that we were going to be moving our offices to a smaller location, and that we could not take the clothing with us, she said ‘No, we cannot let that go.’”
Smith said Hudson shared her desire to lend a helping hand to families in need by raising funds in the community.
“She’s helped several of our families, and got to know them and was moved by their stories. Margo’s here for them.”
The problem Smith and Hudson encountered when planning for the boutique was the lack of awareness for their team’s efforts. Smith hopes the new storefront will attract more attention to the program’s growing needs.
“All of the proceeds from the store go back to programs and services for single parents including financial literacy training programs, helping parents connecting to resources,” Smith said.
The success of the store depends on the desire for one person to help another by donating their clothing or their time.
“When they bring clothes to us, it’s their first introduction to what we do, and that builds a new group of supporters that care about our mission,” Smith said. “We’re understaffed and this store will truly help us to grow our services.”
“It’s really exciting because it's something that we’re doing to not only help our families, it’s an opportunity for our families to give back,” she said.
For Smith, her time with SMO is all about the stories. It’s about the hundreds of people that pass through, each with a different story and a different road traveled.
“When you hear about a struggling family story and you understand where they’re coming from, compassion enters and you want to do something for them,” she said.
For Smith and her numerous helpers, The Closet is a place where compassion meets needs.
The Closet is located at 24335 Main Street in Newhall.
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