FOR THE KIDS : Dot Bottaro stands next to a wall of photos of youngsters her efforts as coordinator of the Children’s Thrift Shop at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Liberty have helped. Bottaro has run the shop for 32 years.  Emily Ball photo

FOR THE KIDS: Dot Bottaro stands next to a wall of photos of youngsters her efforts as coordinator of the Children’s Thrift Shop at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Liberty have helped. Bottaro has run the shop for 32 years. Emily Ball photo

One woman on a mission

Remarkable thrift serves kids in need

 By Emily Ball | Manor Ink

Liberty, NY – The St. Peter’s Children’s Thrift Shop on Main Street in Liberty is not your ordinary thrift store.

Run by Dot Bottaro, the shop only provides for kids. The merchandise ranges from items for newborns to teens. When asked why she did it, Dot replied, “Most thrift stores sell everything. I wanted a place where you could just get children’s.” She added, “I felt there was a need for it. They thought I would last a week. It has definitely been a long week.”

Originally opened on Mother’s Day in 1987, the store has been running for 32 years. It depends on donations. All the donations Bottaro receives are neatly washed and ironed. “I had to wear dirty clothes growing up, I grew up a foster child,” said Dot. “I wouldn’t put anything here that I wouldn’t put on my kids.”

The clothes are organized into labeled baskets, making it easier to see what you can get. The store also has a children’s reading corner, a “free” section and playroom. “I try to put in something new every year,” she said.

When customers first walk into the selling space, they encounter a wall covered in photos. Dot calls the children in the pictures “her kids.” They are some of the children she has helped over the years with the shop, starting with her own grandson. She is now a great grandmother.

“I wanted it magical,” Dot explained. From the colorful stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling, to the old newspaper clippings posted on the wall, the place is definitely magical. “I got carried away, I think,” Dot said, laughing. She has been running the shop by herself for 25 years, with help from occasional volunteers.

“This is all donated,” she said, indicating the shop’s merchandise. “I’m very fortunate with donations. I try to take everything out of storage. Don’t ask me how I do it.” The shop works with all the hospitals and will provide anything that is needed. Around December and January, Dot makes packages to hand out to the new mothers at the hospitals. “Everything you need to bring your baby home,” she said of the package’s contents.

The shop is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but if there is an emergency, she will open at anytime. The clothes are priced so that if you need them, you can afford them. When asked why she thinks the shop is important, Dot said, “There aren’t many places to get clothes around here. People need somewhere to go.” Countless children and babies over the years have received clean and affordable clothes thanks to the loving Dot Bottaro at the St. Peter’s Children’s Thrift Shop. To learn more, call the shop at 292-2852.