The next Thanksgiving, in 2011, Hartlee’s parents gave each member of her family $100. It had to be gone by Christmas, and it had to be used to bless someone. Thinking back to the Santa Shop the year before, Hartlee contacted its coordinators and asked if they still had a need for new bra donations, and how many girls were registered in the age category 11-13. It was a need which had never fit in the church’s budget. There were 49 girls registered from ages 11-13. We had $100. We went to TJ Maxx to see what was possible. In the end, we managed to buy 51 bras for $99.41. Every girl between ages 11 and 13 registered for the Santa Shop in 2011 received a new bra. This was an amazing experience for us, seeing a need being met because of our own work, and we decided not to stop there. In early 2012, we founded Supporting the Girls, a non-profit organization which provides bras to girls and women through various charities and shelters.
In the Fall of 2010, we (Sarah and Hartlee) volunteered in the “Santa Shop” at the Church for All People in downtown Columbus. The Santa Shop is an annual event in which the families regularly receiving aid from the church and its Free Store can get Christmas presents for their children. The gifts are divided into age and gender categories, and along with toys and school supplies, each child receives a new outfit, including a set of new socks and underwear. We noticed that, in the 11-13 year old female category, there were no bras. These teenage girls were getting new clothes and other gifts, but they would get no bras.
Not only does Supporting the Girls give new bras to those in need, but its mission is more than that. Girls and women who fall victim to homelessness, human trafficking, and other such situations need more than a bra. They need to feel special and learn to value and love themselves. In an attempt to meet this need, Supporting the Girls adds handwritten notes of affirmation, tied to each bra with a ribbon. Every girl needs to know how beautiful and valuable she is, and Supporting the Girls hopes to give this knowledge to as many people as possible. While we cannot always change the situation in which we find many girls and women, we can empower each one to view her life differently and be the best she can be, wherever she might find herself in life.