Giving children the opportunity to have new clothes and toys when their life is being turned upside down is what Katie Bug Boutique is all about.
Located inside one of the buildings at the OUR Place shelter in Sparks, the new boutique is just for the children who come to the shelter with their mothers or families.
This new collection of clothing and toys offers the kids something positive and new to hold onto while they are going through some tough life changes.
“For us, the really special thing about that is that everything in there is brand new,” said Kim Schweickert, the coordinator for OUR Place. “We really appreciate that the kids can go in there and the parents don’t have to look at the price tag and say, ‘It’s too much’ or ‘You can only get one thing.’ So they really get to come in and get whatever they need, whatever they want, and feel like kids.”
The idea to open the boutique started in November. It opened two months later on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
“Our focus for the last two-and-a-half years has really [been trying] to create a space where they could go shopping for themselves and be able to pick out things and not have to look at price tags and things like that,” said Schweickert. “We had a big storage room that was full of mattresses and extra clothing and we said, ‘Would you like to turn this into something?’ and they said, ‘We’d like to make the Katie Bug Boutique.’”
The other boutique, which is meant for the women who need it, is carefully organized and is equipped with fitting rooms so that the experience feels like a genuine store. Women can visit the boutique, browse through the well-lit and pleasant-smelling store, and find clothing that is all for them.
OUR Place opened in June of 2021 and offers emergency housing for women and families in partnership with Washoe County human services agency. To better help those staying there feel a sense of normalcy, there are now two boutiques, where people can get new clothes.
The push to open Katie Bug Boutique came from the Katie Grace Foundation, which has been helping the community since 2017. Born out of the death of Katie Weingartner, her mom Kim founded the organization and decided the best way to remember her daughter was to help those who needed it most.
About 100 organizations work with the Katie Grace Foundation to distribute all kinds of goods and services to the members of the community who are often overlooked.
“We have a community outreach program so we partner with local warehouses that are our community sponsors and there are warehouses in the area that have brand new product to give,” said Amie Lands, the executive director of the Katie Grace Foundation. “We pair them up with local nonprofits, who are our non-profit partners. They are tax-exempt organizations that request items that could benefit their nonprofits. So if they have a need that isn’t provided for financially, we are able to offer the redistribution of the products from our community sponsors.”
The organization also offers educational and athletic scholarships to qualifying students in northern Nevada.
“It’s so important for us at the foundation to allow children to know how much they’re loved, how much they’re important, how much they’re valued, and we have so much joy being able to offer this to them,” said Lands. “Our greatest gift is to give to our children and the future generation, build their self-esteem, their confidence, and hopefully creating this memory that they will always know they were loved.”