When I became a mom my world changed. I felt love I never thought I could feel. I had fears I never knew existed. I wanted to give my kids the world. Becoming a mom showed me what real appreciation was, I never knew how hard parenting was and how much parents did for their children until I had my own.

My love not only grew for my children and parents but extended to all children and parents. I saw the love of other parents for their kids and also the struggles other families faced. Struggles of being a good parent, keeping a good relationship with your significant other, balancing work and family life, and sometimes the struggles of providing basic needs for their kids and themselves. Once a mom, I became completely aware of the effect that family struggles can have on children. It broke my heart to see parents deal with hardship and it completely devastated me to see children affected by these uncontrolled situations. I saw children in these predicaments carry the burden of their parents. I saw their confidence fall and their levels of bulling and depression rise.

As our children started to out grow their items, I wanted to find a way to give to those that could really use the items. I figured if I could help provide a basic need to those struggling, I could then help lift the spirits of the parents, which would then lessen the weight their children feel, which could raise confidence in the kids, which would ultimately lessen the chances of bullying and depression. If I could just give the slightest bit of boost to those on hard times then I was going to figure out a way to make it happen.

So started the Secret Santa Shop, a collection of gently used clothes, home goods, and toys that were spruced up, and set out for families to come and “shop” for free. I was hoping for 100 people to attend the event, but to my surprise more then 400 people attended and “shopped” for items for their loved ones and themselves. Secret Santa Shop opened my eyes to the need in our community and struggle so many face but so little of it is showed. I decided then to continue on with the concept of Secret Santa Shop.

S.S.BOUTIQUE was brought to life shortly after Secret Santa Shop ended. I started teaming up with other nonprofits, nursing homes, daycares, and schools in hopes of reaching as many people as I could. I would be available to provide clothing and home goods to the people that they have in their care, and I will continue to reach out to as many organizations as I can. From just the one event that I hosted, I know there is a need and I know that need will unfortunately always be there. One positive thing in your life can lead to a better outlook, which can lead to a more positive attitude on a situation that is not ideal but knowing that there is love and support for you in this tough time can make life all the better.

-Brianna Anderson