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Blue Ridge Foster Love opening shop, providing free clothing, essentials to foster and kinship families

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 7:44 PM EST
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - A new shop in Dayton is opening its doors in the coming weeks, but it’s meant specifically for foster and kinship families with current placements in the Shenandoah Valley.

Blue Ridge Foster Love will be providing things like clothing, shoes, toys, books, and personal hygiene products for children during their time in the foster care system. All of these items are available to foster and kinship families at no cost.

Christine Costello, founder and CEO of Blue Ridge Foster Love, was inspired to create a shop like this in the Valley because of her personal experiences with the foster care system and her experiences as a foster parent.

“I’ve seen foster care closets across the nation and we really don’t have one here,” Costello said.

It started with a vision, which led her to 255-B College Street in Dayton, where a Blue Ridge Foster Love sign now hangs in the window.

With the help of Kristina Ferrara, the VP of Marketing for Blue Ridge Foster Love, the message of the clothing closet was shared on social media, receiving a great response from the community who showed up at their door with donations.

“Foster children do not come with barely anything at all. Maybe just a trash bag or what they have on their backs,” Costello said. “Families can contact us, tell me you have a placement, then come in here and be able to take whatever you need.”

Over the last few weeks, the shop has collected a lot of donations but more are needed. Costello and Ferrara said they need clothing and shoes for both boys and girls ages 6 and older, especially teenagers.

“We want to get in as much in as we can so that this building is filled to the brim so that when our families come in, they have everything they could possibly need,” Ferrara said. “As Christmas is coming and Santa is bringing presents, maybe look at your toys and things you want to move out to make more room... We would be happy to take those.”

Costello said they are awaiting their official 501(c)(3) paperwork, then they will be able to invite families in to “shop,” but until then, she will continue to collect donations.

Other than providing essentials like clothing and hygiene products, Blue Ridge Foster Love plans to help “sponsor experiences” for foster children, like music lessons, dance lessons, or an art or science camp.

“There is a conception that foster placements are provided with enough funding to pay for everything a child needs. In reality, there is funding but it might cover food and basics. It doesn’t cover the extras like lessons, a bike, or the things the kids around them have that they wish they had,” Ferrara said.

If you are interested in donating to Blue Ridge Foster Care, check out its Facebook page for donation drop-off availability, or the Blue Ridge Foster Care website for more information.

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