Recently, Loft 181 was contacted by a Guardian ad Litem, a court-appointed advocate for minors in legal proceedings, with a request for an appointment for a teenage girl, Alissa*, currently in foster care. We found out through conversation that this young lady was turning 16 and had never had a birthday party before. The Guardian hoped shopping on her sweet 16 at Loft 181 could be her birthday present.
One More Child’s Loft 181 is a boutique-style store that offers a unique personalized shopping experience for teenage girls in foster care and survivors of human trafficking. Every girl who walks through our doors can shop for clothing, shoes, jewelry, hygiene items, and more–all for FREE with the assistance of a personal shopper.
Deeply moved, the Loft 181 team countered with a slightly different plan to throw Alissa a surprise Sweet 16 birthday party – complete with food, decorations, a birthday crown, and cake. The Guardian was shocked that we would want to do this for Alissa and asked if Loft 181 would be willing to host a few of her friends in foster care as well. We, of course, said yes!
When the big day approached, the staff followed up with the Guardian to confirm our plans. She informed us that the day was going to be even more special than we could have imagined. They had just found out our Birthday Girl, Alissa, was being relocated to another area later that week. The days leading up to her party had been especially rough for her.
Her Guardian had arranged an amazing guest list including her two biological sisters (also in foster care) that she had not seen in over a year. There was also her foster care workers, an attorney, and a service animal Alissa had come to love along the way.
With Loft 181 decorated and ready, the Birthday Girl arrived, blindfolded and unsure of exactly what her surprise was. One by one, she was reunited with her sisters. There were hugs and tears, not a dry eye in the room. They softly commented on how much one had grown and how long the other’s hair had gotten.
While the sisters chatted and got reacquainted, the Guardian informed the Loft 181 team that this would be the last time the sisters would see each other for a long while. That evening, they would say goodbye and head to different areas of the country. With this news heavy on our hearts, we knew we had to make the most of the night for our Birthday Girl!
After the girls shopped the boutique, the Guardian, Loft 181 staff, volunteers, and guests celebrated Alissa’s special day with gifts and a beautiful cake, complete with 16 candles. Everyone sang and cheered as the Birthday Girl blew out the candles in one breath.
Before the party ended, we invited everyone into Loft 181’s beautiful gospel room to make sure each of the girls heard that they are loved and valued by the God who created them. We assured them that He has good plans for them and encouraged them to seek Him in everything they do. We then prayed over these sweet foster care girls, knowing what was coming next, and asked God’s blessing over them as they went their separate ways.
At One More Child and Loft 181, we have a firm belief that every young girl, just like Alissa, deserves to be loved, valued, and celebrated. That is why we are dedicated to creating special and unforgettable experiences for girls in foster care and those who have survived human trafficking.
With your partnership, One More Child and Loft 181 can continue to offer life-changing experiences. MAKE A GIFT TODAY that will provide hope and joy for young women like Alissa. Your generosity interrupts the cycle of hopelessness for each young lady who walks through its doors.
*Names have been changed for privacy.