Emily Goldberg, Staff Writer

In today’s modern society, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own stresses and worries.  As Generation Y, not only the future doctors, entrepreneurs, and law enforcers, but the current leaders as well, it’s our job to ensure that the most fundamental attribute that drives a person is magnified to be the most prevalent trait that a person can possess – love.

A right that every human being is entitled to, a right that some are not as fortunate enough to receive, love is something that we often take for granted.  The number of girls in the Lakeland area specifically who are labeled as “at risk” is immeasurable.  Top Buttons is a store that gives girls a second chance at not only being loved but learning to loving themselves.

Top Buttons was founded in 2012 and is a non-profit upscale boutique that offers a variety of programs to help Lakeland’s youth with establishing a more confident lifestyle through fashion.

Many teens struggle with self-worth, confidence and body image and the media isn’t helping. Sometimes the media teaches us that revealing more of our body leads to more confidence, but Top Buttons teaches girls that there is a way to feel confident without exploiting yourself. Their “Wearing Confidence” program is a transformative project in which at risk teens attend educational sessions on “On the Job Attire,” “Cultural Impact on Fashion,” and “Understanding Contextual Modesty” to learn healthy ways to promote self-esteem and modesty. These girls get invited into the store and receive a free haircut, skin care and makeup tutorial, photoshoot and a wardrobe makeover from a professional stylist and up to $100 of properly fitting attire.

They work exclusively with PACE Center for girls, Girls Inc., Teen Challenge and the Dream Center to provide these girls the education they need to feel comfortable in their own skin and wear appropriate clothing that not only fits their body type, but also fits their personality.

Top Buttons also partners with the Sozo Initiative, an organization that exists to support anti-human trafficking and efforts to diminish modern day slavery.  Lakeland has a very serious problem with human trafficking, which is why Top Buttons has partnered with The Porch Light, FIGHT Ministries and Project Rescue to bring in girls that may need help building confidence.

In addition to the “Wearing Confidence” program that the store is most well known for, they are also a boutique that is open from 11-5 p.m. every Saturday.  All clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories are donated at and priced at or below $2.  They are always looking for more donations to use for their program and any and all donations can be dropped off at the boutique on Saturdays.

A hidden treasure that many Lakelander’s are unaware of, Top Buttons offers the community a chance to stand up for the girls who may need a little extra love in their life.  Next time you go in your closet, look at that top you haven’t worn in a year and think about how that shirt could change a girl’s life for the better.