By Marisa Gottesman
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.
Lynda Walsh, a court-appointed advocate for children from Delray Beach, Fla., wants kids to look fashionable no matter how tight of a budget they are on.
To provide youth with clothing of all sizes and accessories to match, Walsh recently opened the Cool Clothes Closet of South Palm Beach County, a nonprofit boutique where kids can shop without worrying about how much money is in their wallet.
The 69-year-old retiree’s main goal is to provide both everyday and professional clothing, at no cost, to kids in foster care, young professionals aging out of the foster care system and kids of returning veterans, who haven’t found work yet, she said.
“We are here to give clothes away to kids who need them,” Walsh said.
The closet, a storefront, is set up like a boutique with clothes hanging on racks and folded in dressers for both males and females sizes extra small to triple extra large.
Walsh’s philanthropic effort started in 2012, when she became a guardian ad litem for children.
So she took classes and went through the certification process after deciding to protect kids in difficult scenarios.
Walsh isn’t a stranger to working with kids in rough situations. Before she moved to Florida in 2000, she worked as a court stenographer in Chicago, where she worked in the juvenile court system.
Once she started helping at the West Palm Beach courthouse, she saw how shabbily dressed the kids were when they showed up to court.
“I saw teens coming to court in dirty, ragged clothes,” she said.
Even though the courthouse has a closet of professional clothes for kids to change into for court appearances, she said she wanted to help kids outside of the court and its limited hours.
“I knew I wanted to do something in south Palm Beach County,” she said. “West Palm Beach can be hard for kids to get to.”