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Fashioning Kindness

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For many Main Liners, $10,000 would make for one fabulous shopping spree. But for 73 percent of the women who come through the doors of Wings For Success in Frazer, $10,000 is more than their annual income. Since 1997, Wings has been a charitable source of free, work-appropriate clothing for over 5,000 economically disadvantaged women in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

“When the women come in, it’s often a tentative situation,” says Linda Torelli, Wings’ marketing committee chair. “And by the time they leave, there are often hugs and cheers.”

Over 40 volunteers are the actual “wings” of the operation, with one paid employee as program manager. Personal clothing stylists dress clients for interviews and provide enough fashionable items for two weeks on the job, including suits, separates, shoes, costume jewelry and even scrubs for healthcare workers. “Most [volunteers] come because they have a core commitment to helping women be successful,” says Torelli.

The savings amount to $500-$1,000 per client. Donations come from local retailers like QVC, Talbots and Dansko, the consignment shops Charmingly Linda’s in Frazer and Maria Fe’s in Malvern, along with a number of generous individuals. Wings works on a referral-only basis with 50 social service agencies and job training programs, and most clients are under 45. As of November 2009, Wings had served more than 400 women—a 54-percent increase over 2008. “[But] our foundation funding is down 57 percent,” says Torelli.

In addition to financial support, Wings needs in-kind services, and specialty items like scrubs, sizes 0-2 and plus sizes.

To learn more, call (610) 644-6323 or visit wingsforsuccess.org.

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