If you’re someone who thinks teenagers today are unwilling to help others, 16-year-old Dana Passerman of Lower Saucon Township is on a mission that will prove you wrong.
With support from her parents, Gina and David, Dana has been collecting new and gently used boys and girls clothing for a pop-up back-to-school boutique for foster teens which she will be operating in partnership with The Kindness Project of Lehigh Valley.
The Emmaus-based Kindness Project is a nonprofit organization that offers support and services free of charge to local foster children and their families.
In a recent Facebook post about the boutique, the Kindness Project said pre-teens and teens “often get missed when people think of donating.”
Teens who don’t have the resources to buy new school clothes can also be stigmatized or even bullied by their peers, so providing them with a shopping experience is an “extra special way” to give them the dignity that foster kids sometimes don’t have, it explained.
“This isn’t for service hours, Girl Scouts badges or any sort of credit,” the post also noted. “Dana just wants to give back!”
For the 16-year-old who’s heading into her junior year at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts in Bethlehem, giving back so far has involved visiting local farmers’ markets to spread the word about the Kindness Project and the Back-to-School boutique, which in addition to clothes will provide foster teens with jewelry, accessories, new shoes and new hygiene products before they start school next month. (In addition to hygiene products and shoes, donated socks, bras, underwear and pajamas should also be new.)
The Passermans have had information booths at the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market at Lehigh University and the Rose Garden Farmers Market in West Bethlehem recently.
This Sunday, Dana and her family will be at the Saucon Valley Farmers’ Market in Hellertown from 9 a.m. to noon* to accept dropped off donations and share information about the boutique. Cash donations are appreciated, and contributions can also be made via PayPal, Venmo (note “TKP Boutique” when submitting a donation) or check.
The market is located next door to the Hellertown Area Library at 409 Constitution Avenue in Hellertown, across the street from Dimmick Park.
If you can’t attend the market but would like more information or to schedule a drop-off, Dana can be reached at TK*********@gm***.com. There is also a TKP Boutique Amazon Wish List from which donors can purchase needed items and have them shipped directly to the boutique.
More information about The Kindness Project is available on their website, on their Facebook page and via email at In**@Ki***************.org.
Another way to support The Kindness Project will be at a benefit, Tacos with a Side of Kindness, July 27 from 4 to 9 p.m. at Funk Brewing and Triple Sun Spirits, 518 Bank St., Emmaus. A portion of beverage sales will benefit the organization, as will raffles and a dunk tank. There will also be live music by Kinda Sorta Maybe Band, family-style yard games and a cookie sale to benefit The Kindness Project and its work in the community.
“Community fundraisers, like Tacos With A Side of Kindness, allow us to cover overhead costs for The Kindness Exchange, a local shop in Emmaus where resource families can access necessities for youth from ages newborn up to 21 who’ve been placed in foster care,” said Jenae Holtzhafer, The Kindness Project Founder and Executive Director. “Thanks to this support, resource families are able to focus on the immediate physical and emotional needs of the children placed in their care.”
“We are the only foster care community center in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding area, serving over 1,100 children to date,” Holtzhafer added.
Dana Passerman’s Back-to-School Boutique collection will continue through Aug. 5.
*The Saucon Valley Farmers’ Market is regularly open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., however on Sunday, July 24 it will close an hour earlier due to the forecast high in the upper 90s.