Possibilities in Proximity: Leaders Look Across Street, Seize Opportunities to Serve
By Grace Keohane Dyck
It all started with the question, “What can we do to serve our community?” recalls Annie Clark, Campus Life area director for Youth for Christ. Clark was part of a meeting at Lynchwood Church of God with leaders from the church, Youth for Christ, and other local ministries. They were looking for a way to help their community. They wanted to reach out and serve those that might need help during this trying time. They found the answer by looking out the window.
“We realized that we were uniquely positioned right across the street from Centennial High School,” Clark says. “We asked, ‘What we can do to help high school students who attend there?’” This is how the idea for Aspen + Gray came about.
Aspen and Gray is a new, completely free, boutique of on-trend clothing, shoes, and personal care items. The boutique encourages female students who are in need to contact them via Instagram, @aspengray_ for a personal shopping experience at no cost. The hand-selected clothing is new or gently used, and comes in a wide offering of sizes.
Clark describes the project as “a collaboration unlike anything I have seen before,” and she was excited to see many others contribute.
“We have had students volunteer to sort and wash clothing, community members who have donated clothing, complete strangers all over the internet who have donated hundreds of personal care items, a nonprofit who is staffing our interns, and a church who is funding the project,” she continues. “It has been a labor of love to meet the needs of female youth in our community.”
Even though the boutique is a brand-new initiative, it has already been able to serve a handful of young women. One recent client was particularly memorable for Clark. “She was shy and said she was just looking for a sweatshirt. But I asked if there was anything else she needed,” Clark recalls. The young girl looked at the wall of personal care items. “Do you think I could get a toothbrush…and maybe one for my mom and sister, too?” she asked.
Clark recalled being a teenager herself. “We weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of extra money either, and I remember wanting to have some nice clothes at that age,” she says. She believes a nice outfit and some good hygiene items can make a huge difference in the confidence of a young woman.
“Our dream is that every student knows who we are and that they feel safe when they are at Aspen + Gray. If we can achieve this, I truly think we will be showing our community the love of Christ,” Clark says.
Aspen + Gray is still taking donations of gently used clothing, personal care items, as well as financial contributions to help them to purchase new clothing items in sizes when they don’t have enough variety. They are especially in need of shoes.
You can reach out to them via their Instagram page @aspengray_ or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a student or know of a female middle or high school student in the east county area that needs clothing they would love to help. “I hope that every student we serve leaves knowing they are wildly worthy and loved,” Clark says.
Aspen + Gray is a project inspired by the Chapter 4 Institute. Learn more about Chapter 4 at www.jesusisthesubject.org/chapter4. Article originally published by Stark & Main. Republished by permission.