AUSTIN -- The Austin Children's Shelter is teaming up with a new nonprofit that raises money by selling donated clothes.
"We raise money for charity by re-selling donated designer and better brands women clothing," said Christena Reinhard, founding executive director of Union and Fifth. Reinhard, along with her business partner Pamela Trefler, came up with the idea to start the company after trying something similar.
Reinhard was working at a nonprofit that needed to raise money, so Trefler cleaned out her closet and sold the clothes on an online consignment shop. They raised $40,000.
"What we realized was [that] I wasn't the only person in America that had way too many clothes in my closet that I wasn't wearing [and] was never going to wear. We thought, 'Why not sell them and use the money for charity?'" said Trefler, who is the founding managing director.
Funding from the Department of Family and Protective Services only covers 30 percent of the Austin Children's Shelter's annual budget while fundraisers supplement the rest.
"As most people know, that funding is not adequate to cover the expenses of our shelter," said Stacy Bruce, executive director at Austin Children's Shelter.
For more than 30 years, the shelter, sitting on seven acres, has served as housing for kids -- newborns to age 17. Staff provide a safe, secure environment, food and shelter, plus therapy and life skills programs, thanks mostly to community support.
"They have been through multiple foster homes, maybe they've been in and out of residential treatment centers," said Bruce. "These kids, for the most part, come from hard places."
With the new collaboration, people can help by clearing out their closet.
A person interested in donating can go online, register with the website and name the charity they want money donated to. Then they ship items to Union and Fifth where they are sold.
"Instead of us keeping all the profits, we will keep 25 percent so we can have things like light and heat, but we pass on 75 percent of the proceeds to the charity of the donor's choice," said Reinhard.
"We ourselves are a nonprofit so 100 percent of the money we raise goes to charity," added Trefler.
During Tuesday's fashion show at the W Hotel, models showed off some of the clothes available on the website and participants donated clothes in the name of Austin Children's Shelter to be sold.
"At the end of the day, if we know we've helped one child move one step toward, one step closer to self sufficiency and becoming a productive adult, then that's a big win for us," said Bruce.