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Boutique for homeless women can't keep up with demand; new undergarments needed

Shop is part of St. Pete's Free Clinic
Boutique for homeless women needs your donations
Posted at 3:08 AM, Feb 07, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. —  Robin Murphy was not shy about asking for new underwear on social media.

The volunteer at the Baldwin Women’s Center, a transitional house for homeless women in St. Petersburg, knows all too well how quickly anyone's life could change for the worse.

“Anyone can be on top of the mountain one day and lose everything the next,” Murphy says.

So Murphy went on her Nextdoor app and asked the people of Old Northeast St. Pete for donated undergarments to help stock “the Boutique," a sort-of shop offering free items for women living on the street or trying to better their lives staying in the residence.

“This is where we keep the underwear, and as you can see we’re low,” Murphy says, opening up an almost-empty underwear drawer in the Boutique. “We need to fill this up. It goes out as quick as it comes in.”

They need underwear, but also toiletries, accessories, blouses and khakis for service jobs and interviews.

“A lot of these women come in with nothing but the clothes on their back,” Murphy says. “They’re trying to get their life back together.”

The Baldwin Women’s Residence, part of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, houses 50 women. It receives some 500 calls a month for vacancies, a number that increased over the past two years.

“We’re full all the time,” says Residence Director Cindy Burnham. 

The means demand for clothes in the Boutique, which is often one of the first steps to a better life, is also on the rise.

“I see them cry, I see them laugh, I see them hug,” says Burnham. “They’re amazed at how they look on the outside.”

The Boutique is inside the Baldwin Women’s Residence loated at 814 4th Ave N. in St. Petersburg. It accepts donations Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.