A 2-year-old non-profit boutique is making a difference in the lives of children in the foster care system. The Twig Warehouse at Pinebrook Plaza in Venice, Florida is allowing kids in non-relative foster care placements to come in and shop for items for free two days a month. In April, The Twig, which stands for “The Ways to Inspire and Give,” was awarded Nonprofit of the Year by the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce. The Twig is an incredible foster care closet with a goal to serve those in need.

The boutique provides a unique experience for kids in foster care. While other charitable shops give a stack of seven items in a child’s size, The Twig aims for an experience for the child. When a child first comes into the shop, their name is painted on the wall by the door. The kids get to pick out seven items of clothing or shoes, as well as a book, toy or other accessories that fit their personality and style. They get additional undergarments and socks as needed.

“It’s not just about clothes; everything that happens in their lives has been based on choices others have been making,” said Nicole Britton, who, as the development director, is the only full-time employee.

The items chosen are then placed in a paper bag with the child’s name and an inspirational message on it such as, “You are 100 percent Beautiful, 100 percent Worthy, 100 percent Unique, and 100 percent God Made.” The shop even has an area for small children to play with volunteers to supervise them so the others can shop.

Founder, Dianna Weed says, “They walk in, they’re ashamed, they’re embarrassed, they don’t feel good about themselves. And as they slowly come in month after month and we love on them, and we encourage them, they blossom.”

“I think it makes a difference,” she added. “I think they start to feel who they are again, not on what the world has put on them.”

Since the boutique opened in 2016, it has served approximately 900 children. Area schools and churches help to keep the merchandise stocked. The Twig is looking for sponsors and auction items for its 2nd annual online auction Sept. 27-30.

To learn more about the foster care closet, The Twig, visit thetwigcares.com. Donations are accepted between 4 and 6 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month at the storefront at 826 Venice Ave., Venice. Call 941-212-3326 for information.