Dozens of women around the Twin Cities are dressed to impress this holiday thanks to a pop-up event held in St Paul. “Moms need a little loving,” said Marsha D. Carter, the organizer of the event. “Not to slight children, but they are always thought of this time of year. We can give to children by supporting their mothers.”
On Dec. 18, Carter, founder of the nonprofit Beyond the Dance Network, invited close to 75 women who are unhoused or living in transitional settings to a makeshift store that had no price tags or cash registers. The women had the opportunity to “shop” the racks of donated new and gently used clothes and pick an outfit, complete with coats and shoes.
“We provide fashion, comfort, and warmth; we have it all,” said Carter. “High-end clothes, sweaters, down vests, sweat pants, and leggings, they shopped head to toe.”
Connecting with several nonprofits that identified underserved women, Carter created a festive atmosphere. She treated them to a hot meal, complete with chicken, beans, rice, mac and cheese, peach cobbler, and pound cake. While the moms worked with 15 volunteers who helped them pull together their outfits, the kids who accompanied them enjoyed the food and a coloring book station just for them.
Carter said she was motivated to stage the pop-up because she wants to “lighten the load” carried by a group of women who are often overlooked. “Moms will give anything extra to their kids. They sacrifice so much. But self-care is important,” said Carter, who works as a hairstylist.
“I came from a single-parent home, the youngest of five children. My mom raised us to the best of her ability but it was a struggle. When she was able to get some help, things got better for us.”
Carter was moved by the gratitude expressed by the attendees and said that she felt “so much joy” while staging the event.
“The price of food and clothing has escalated. My motivation is to just help,” Carter said. “Some people were born into tough situations, others get down on their luck and need a hand. I know someday these people will be in a position when they can help too and give back and keep it going.”
Two more clothing giveaways are planned in the coming months. A pop-up store offering women’s clothing is scheduled for January 21. Another event on February 18 will provide clothing to men. Both pop-ups will be held from 1-4 pm at 713 Minnehaha East, Suite 217 in St. Paul, the office space for the Beyond the Dance Network.
Carter welcomes clothing donations or funds. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.