Hands4Hope’s 13th Annual Warm & Fuzzy Drive and Winter Boutique / Blanket Making Party took place over the months of October through December. This year, we collected over 12,000 warm clothing items and impacted over 900 individuals!
With each passing year, fresh ideas from our youth leaders and volunteers, new community partnerships and improvements based on lessons learned allowed us to make the event run more smoothly, increase our reach and make a greater impact on families in need right here in our community!
We invite you to read the complete wrap-up below of our 13th Annual Warm & Fuzzy Drive and Winter Boutique event written by Jasmine Jenik, Oak Ridge High School senior and 2022 Winter Boutique Chair who has been volunteering with Hands4Hope since 2018.
13th Annual Hands4Hope Winter Boutique Wrap Up
by Jasmine Jenik, 2022 Winter Boutique Chair
Hands4Hope -Youth Making A Difference held its 13th Annual Winter Boutique during the first two weekends of December at the El Dorado Hills Town Center. With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the Winter Boutique saw an amazing turnout with over 200 families, representing 924 individuals, visiting the Winter Boutique this year and being able to shop for free.
In November, volunteers at home and at Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference’s Annual Blanket Making Party came together to make 71 homemade blankets to distribute at the Winter Boutique. Thanks to all of the elementary schools and businesses that hosted and promoted the Warm and Fuzzy Drive during the month of October, 12,000 articles of warm clothing and accessories were collected for the Winter Boutique.
Over 8,000 items were selected by guests who “shopped” at the Winter Boutique in December and the remaining items were provided to our partner agencies such as West Slope Foundation (Caldor Fire Survivors) and Schnell Elementary School’s Coat Closet for distribution to those most in need.
Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference’s Winter Boutique Committee is made up of youth from local schools. In the spirit of Hands4Hope’s mission to inspire and empower youth in leadership and service, youth drive the process from start to finish with support from Hands4Hope staff mentors and an adult lead.
This year’s Winter Boutique Committee Chair and high school senior, Jasmine Jenik, led meetings and oversaw the entire project. High school senior Ian Hunt and junior Chloe Deiss, the Collection Logistics Chairs, managed the thousands of donated clothing items, including transporting and donating leftover clothing. High school junior Maya Moss, Event Logistics Chair, took care of the budget and supplies. The gingerbread-themed Boutique was decorated by the Winter Boutique Decorations Team, led by high school senior Patrick Whelan, this year’s Site Layout and Decor Chair. As Marketing Chair, high school junior Vansh Angi contacted agencies with the Winter Boutique fliers to share with local families in need of a helping hand. The Winter Boutique would not have been possible without the help of Hands4Hope youth and adult volunteers, led by Volunteer Management Chairs and high school juniors Navy Morrison and Sage Barden.
After participating as a volunteer at the Winter Boutique for two previous years, Sage Barden said, “It was so great to finally serve on the Committee this year and help put it all together. This experience definitely opened my eyes to all the work that goes into putting on these events as well as how important they are for so many people in the community. The highlight of all of it would definitely be meeting Legacy, the little girl who entertained us all on the very last day. She made us laugh so hard and reminded me partly of why we do what we do. Through volunteering, I always hope to put a smile on someone's face, and just by being herself, Legacy put a smile on all of our faces.”
Jennifer Cole, who served on this year’s Marketing Committee said,
“For me, the Winter Boutique illustrated the importance of warm clothing and how many people don’t have access to this necessary clothing. Additionally, the fact that we were able to create a whole clothing boutique in just a few months was incredibly satisfying. We had a lot of clothes donated, and it was amazing to see a pile of clothes eventually be sorted into a whole boutique.”
During the checkout process, Jenik remembers speaking with a family who asked about the clothing donation process and how Hands4Hope collects the clothes. The family said they have plenty of clothes they can donate next year. Jenik said, “It's like they're paying it forward - they received clothes and next time, they'll give clothes.”
Working with partner agencies, including Green Valley Community Church, Upper Room, Maryhouse, Sister Nora’s Place, Mustard Seed School, Aspire Outfitters, Black Oak Mine Unified School District, West Slope Foundation (Caldor Fire Survivors), and Schnell Elementary School’s Coat Closet, Hands4Hope distributed the remaining items from the Warm & Fuzzy Drive/Winter Boutique to other individuals in need.
The Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Winter Boutique Committee would like to thank Sierra Laundry for allowing the use of their washing machines and El Dorado Hills Town Center for donating the space to hold the Boutique and all the Hands4Hope partner agencies that shared the event and invited families. We’d also like to recognize our Adult Lead, Madeline Vadenaise, and acknowledge our extended Hands4Hope community for all the ways they support our work. All contributed to the success of this year’s wonderful Winter Boutique!