When Auburn University junior Madison Rolling was a senior in high school, she was a member of her school's chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Through her affiliation with the club, Rolling realized how many families in her hometown, Madison, Alabama, were in need financially.
Her FCA advisor encouraged the students to be a light to others. Little did Rolling know, this encouragement would turn into a charity that would reach those very families in need in her community. Rolling asked herself how she could leave a legacy for Christ?
"I decided that I wanted to help children feel confident on the first day of school by giving them a new outfit," said Rolling. "As my ideas developed further, I went to my advisor and asked if this was possible."
In May 2013, Rolling went to three of her best friends and told them about her goal in helping the community. They got on board with her, and from that came what is now their organization, Clothing for Confidence.
"We figured it would be something fun for the four of us to do together," said Rolling. "We weren't all going to the same college, so we knew this would keep us from ever growing apart, even if the impact we made was small."
Rolling and her friends began collecting new and barely used clothing throughout the summer. They encouraged people in the community to donate the clothes that had been in the back of their closets for years but still had the tag on them.
"It was important to us that the clothing was in great condition so that the children would walk out of our shop feeling confident about their new outfit," Rolling explained.
At the end of the summer, Rolling and her partners hosted a shopping day, open to the community. They set-up their giving space like a store, in hopes that they could create the atmosphere of a true shopping experience. Instead of it feeling like a give-a-way, it feels like a shopping spree.
In a way, it really is a shopping spree. Each item in the store costs $1. Rolling explained that they did this for two reasons. First, they needed a way to limit the number of clothing items each person could take. By making each item $1, families could buy as much or as little as they needed. The second reason was to give the parents the confidence and satisfaction of providing for their children.
"Many parents have told us that they appreciate that each item costs $1 because they were able to purchase something for their kids," said Rolling. "Of course, if paying $1 for an item is ever an issue, we work around it on a situational basis."
All of the money earned each year goes back into the charity and is used to buy more clothes for the next year.
Rolling and her friends have now been running the charity for three summers and don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
"The greatest change we have seen since the start of Clothing for Confidence is the number of people we have been able to serve," said Rolling. "Every year we have a line of people waiting outside to come in and shop."
While the organization is still Madison-based, families from all over North Alabama now come to shop. The girls hope to continue reaching more families each year.
After three years, Rolling and her friends have made many memories and have plenty of heart-warming stories from Clothing for Confidence.
Anyone interested in donating clothing items or getting involved can visit the Clothing for Confidence Facebook page.
"It's been phenomenal to see how our desire to make a small difference has turned into what it is today," said Rolling. "It's all about showing people love and I am so thankful that we have had the opportunity to do that."
(Photo Credit: Madison Rolling)
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