Darlene Pena of Lancaster believes that "there are good people in the world" as a result of a surprise she recently received.
A single mother of two, Pena, 39, was selected to receive about $10,000 worth of clothing, shoes, jewelry and body products from The Giving Closet, a charity founded by Los Angeles native Sam Russell.
Russell worked with Pena's social worker, Cathy Hower, to surprise Pena with a makeover and the items at Visage a Visage Salon. Pena's new look was completed by salon stylist Erica Edwards, who also donated her time.
The more than 23 outfits, shoes, handbags, body products and Paul Frank pajamas for her children were donated by name-brand designers through The Giving Closet. Russell founded the charity after working as a personal stylist to celebrities and seeing the amount of available clothing that could benefit those in need.
Overwhelmed and holding back tears, Pena was visibly touched by the gifts and said that it has been a long time since "someone did something nice like this for me. I am always doing everything for my children."
Pena works part time as a teacher's aide at Fulton Elementary School in Lancaster, and Hower knew that Pena would be appreciative of the clothes. Pena's 18-year-old daughter has special needs and requires round-the-clock care, Pena said.
"She is an amazing mom," Hower said. "She gives her life to her kids and she needs to be taken care of, too."
"This will allow me to do that a little," Pena said as she looked through all of the clothes. "I just don't do things for myself."