Boutique District makes charity fashionable

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When the Old Town Boutique District began planning a day of charity to benefit the greater community, Elizabeth Todd knew exactly where her efforts were headed. 

    
Todds nephew suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and her husband sits on the Foundation to Eradicate Duchennes board. It wasnt a hard choice, said Todd, owner of The Shoe Hive.
    
Its a charity thats pretty personal to me and close to me and a lot of people who know me came in to support it, a lot of good friends came, Todd said. 
    
Todd joined 30 boutiques lending a helping hand to charitable organizations, including Alexandria in Bloom, the Make A Wish Foundation and the Fund for Alexandrias Children, among others. 
    
The boutique-only organization holds an event each season. They were brainstorming an idea for spring when fellow boutique owner Kim Putens mentioned her previous efforts to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in the memory of former employee Stacy Boylan. 
    
Not long after, boutiques across Old Town were working with charities of their choosing to provide donations and collection spots. The daylong charity event, held May 14, was a hit, said Elleni Cavaloaro, owner of the Apple Seed.
    
We have a whole bunch of ideas and this one seemed to be a huge success, she said. We saw a lot of people coming in here who had been at other boutiques in the area. They knew that if they shopped on that particular day they could feel good about helping us.
    
Like Todd, Cavaloaro didnt have to think long and hard to come up with a beneficiary. The shop is donating roughly $300 to the Alexandria YMCAs children enhancement program, proceeds coming from the Saturdays sales. Its a perfect fit for a maternity and baby boutique, she said. 
    
Between fundraising, running a charity raffle and matching total donations with a personal contribution, Todd will send roughly $4,000 to the foundation. The money will be well spent, said Rosemary Hoffmann, vice president of development. 
    
These funds go directly into research to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, she said. It goes to scientists and researchers, toward finding a cure and treatments in the meantime.
    
Duchenne, a debilitating genetic disease, is more likely to strike boys and most suffering from the affliction die by the age of 25, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. A cure is unknown and treatment consists of minimizing the symptoms and improving quality of life. 
    
For Hoffmann, getting support from a local boutique was particularly touching. Most of their fundraising comes from two efforts: a July golf tournament and a September dinner. Outside help is always appreciated, she said, especially given the diseases dire prognosis. 
    
[Scientists and researchers are] working diligently right now to try and find treatment that will not only slow down the pace [of Duchenne], but increase the quality of life, Hoffmann said. Thats why money is so critical were working against the clock.

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