By Emily Neelon |
Being the new kid is hard. Being the new kid every year is harder. But being the new kid, wearing too-small, well-worn hand-me-downs is the worst.
Everyone has experienced the nervous anxiety that comes with walking into school on the first day and searching the sea of students for a friendly or familiar face. But not everyone has experienced this from the perspective of a foster child. In the battleground of lockers and impossibly long hallways, you can’t help but notice the other kids outfitted in their back-to-school shopping trip steals, evaluating your own appearance. You keep your head down, staring at the holes in your shoes and rips in your jeans.
For foster kids, this scene is a yearly reality. When moving from home to home, foster children are often unable to hold onto many possessions – or buy new clothes with every season.
This is where Project Lemonade comes in.
Founded in 2012 by Rhonda Meadows, the non-profit organization provides new and gently-used clothing for foster kids at the beginning of the school year. In a pop-up shop in the Pearl District, foster children aged 5-20 can shop for a new outfit to wear on their first day. Each child receives new underwear and socks, and can search for other clothing staples with the help of a personal shopper.
Project Lemonade has been successful in cultivating confidence in kids from the Portland metro area and surrounding counties, serving 1300 children in August 2012 and 1600 children in August 2013. By helping to eliminate one of the many challenges foster youth face, the organization has given kids the courage to walk braver, sit taller and raise their hands higher in class.
Below we hear from Project Lemonade’s Founder Rhonda Meadows, DHS Case Worker Peter Drummond and Board Member Gail Anderson about the organization’s efforts.