Denim & Dreams: West County Center

From the changing leaves to the start of the new school year, fall has always been a season of transition. This autumn, West County Center is working to help kids in need turn over a new leaf—and it could use your help! From now through Oct. 15, the shopping center in Des Peres is collecting anything and everything denim to benefit the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition. Each donation goes toward helping improve the lives of children and teens impacted by the foster care system.

The denim items collected by West County Center will be used to stock Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s retail shop, Refresh. The store is open to the public and provides a wide variety of clothing items, including a large designer section. “All profits from Refresh support our programming,” explains Shelley Thomas-Benke, the nonprofit’s director of family enrichment and volunteers. “This includes recruiting foster and adoptive families and other initiatives, such as educational advocacy and support for crisis situations. Shopping at Refresh, you not only get great deals, but you’re also helping kids who have been abandoned, abused and neglected.”

As well as raising money for Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s programs, Refresh brings clothing directly to children and teens impacted by foster care. Twice each year, the nonprofit provides $200 in free clothing to the population it serves. Thomas-Benke notes that is crucial for these kids because they often don’t have a full wardrobe. “In most situations, kids are coming into foster care with only the clothes on their back,” she says. “They’re starting new schools with very little to wear, and they have been through traumatic experiences, which impacts their self-esteem. Refresh allows them to get the clothing they need quickly, and by offering fashionable choices, they can feel comfortable and proud.”

Now is the perfect time to make a meaningful clothing donation, especially denim, says Sean Phillips, senior marketing director for West County Center. “Fall has always been the new denim season,” he notes. “We hope that as people are clearing out their closets to make room for something new, they’ll think about donating some items. We’re looking for denim of all sizes—from babies to adults—and it doesn’t have to be just jeans. Jackets, skirts, shirts and more are welcome.” Making a donation is easy. You just need to bring your denim items to Level 1 near Nordstrom and place them in the collection bin.

The denim drive isn’t West County Center’s first initiative to benefit Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition. The shopping center has collected gift cards to distribute to children on their birthdays and held sock and underwear drives. This spring, thanks to one of its largest collections yet, it provided the nonprofit with nearly 1,000 formal dresses for its Cinderella Project. “West County Center has been a phenomenal partner,” Thomas-Benke says. “Its team is always asking how they can help and coming up with innovative ideas. Through their efforts and impact in the community, we’ve received thousands of dollars of donations, and all of it helps support the kids we serve.”

From now through Oct. 15, donate anything denim at West County Center on Level 1 near Nordstrom to benefit Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition. Pictured on the cover: Tammy Hayes, Adam Drennen, Michelle Hune, Melissa Bailey, Nick Kelley. For more information, visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton

Pictured at the top: This fall, West County Center is collecting denim to benefit Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

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