Zeeland store runs on donations, caters to foster kids
Updated: Tuesday, June 5 2012, 08:35 PM EDT
ZEELAND, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - More than 1 million children nationwide are in foster care waiting for permanent homes.
Tonight, a former West Michigan foster child is using her experiences to help others.
It's the first of its kind in the state--a store, run on donations, exclusively for teens in the foster care system.
The founder, a Zeeland resident, said her own experience in foster care inspired her to reach out to others.
Casandra Collins now spends her days working as a stylist.
Her store, Rick Rack, is named after her foster father who passed away in 2004.
It caters to more than 60 of the 150 kids in foster care in Ottawa and Allegan Counties, geared toward those ages 11 to 17.
"I had been in foster care and aged out of the system, so I kinda got what it was like to fel like you were on your own and not really have any support," Collins said.
She opened the store--run on community donations--in January of 2011, years afer being placed in foster care at age 13.
Once a month, her clients now meet with a stylist for private appointments, they're fitted and take home six items free of charge.
A 17-year-old that we talked to told us that she had nothing to call her own before Rick Rack.
Collins hopes that with the boost passed along to teens in need, some will find the strength, like she has, to share their experiences with others.
"I think a lot of people need to know that children need to be loved and cared for and not thrown away," a foster teen said. "I am thankful for the help Cassandra has given to me to help move on with my life."
Collins said there are another 400-500 refugee teens here in the state, not included in the foster care numbers.
Rick Rack has also opened their doors to those children in the area, and down the road, hopes to be able to accommodate foster kids of all ages.