‘The Boutique’ creates ‘dignified’ space for homeless to find free clothes

AMITYVILLE— A Suffolk County distribution center aims to keep everyone warm this winter by supplying coats, hats, gloves, and more to people in need.

“The boutique,”— a program sponsored by the Long Island Coalition for the homeless — is set up similar to a thrift store, except for the fact that the clothes are donated to neighbors in need, completely free of charge.

“We want people who are in need to come in and shop in a dignified atmosphere. Dignified, welcoming and friendly atmosphere,” said Cindy Brahms, the manager of The Boutique.

It works on a referral basis: agencies and shelters first provide a list of clients, ranging from people who are homeless to veterans. The distribution center could see anywhere between 20 to 30 clients or their caretakers in one day.

The reason it is all possible is through teamwork. The Boutique not only relies on donors but dozens of volunteers who come in every week to collect, sort, and organize all of the donations.

“I’m amazed at the number of people who need clothes in this country where we have so many clothes all over the place,” said Sister Joan Donovan of St. Dominic.

Aside from clothing, The Boutique also collects non-perishable food, new bedding and pillows, books, toys, and personal care items.

The program’s ultimate goal is to engage the community in volunteerism and spread awareness about the issue of homelessness.