When Haley Ballenger came to Fort Worth from Houston in 2018, she had no friends and nothing for herself to enjoy. Her children were young, so she didn’t have time to go out and socialize.
She started a Facebook group, called Fort Worth Weird Moms Club, to connect with other mothers in the city — it caught on quickly, she said.
“I was like, ‘This is either going to be the best thing that ever happened, or it’s going to be a total fluke,’” Ballenger said. “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Honestly, it changed my life for the better.”
Today, the Facebook group has more than 2,000 members, and there she met Kelly Warner, a close friend and co-founder of the Fort Worth Community Collaborative, a nonprofit organization aimed at providing clothing to parents who may not be able to afford them.
Warner and Ballenger began the collaborative in 2022 after five years of friendship and Weird Moms clothing swaps. Now, they’ve donated about two tons of clothing at places like LVT Rise, Fortress Fort Worth, and soon, the Northside Inter Community Agency, Ballenger said.
If you go:
Fort Worth Community Collaborative Community Pop-up/Clothing Drive
Northside Inter-Community Agency, 1600 Circle Park Blvd.
11 a.m.–1 p.m., Sept. 16
“It just so happens that our kids are all stairsteps in age,” Ballenger said. “So we would be like, ‘Hey, I’m cleaning out closets. Does anybody need girls’ clothes? Does anybody need boys’ size eight?”
Warner recognized not all parents have good-paying jobs, so she hopes their clothing donations help — the donated goods are open to all. She didn’t qualify for financial assistance because she didn’t check all the boxes required to receive it, she said.
“It’s one of those things where even though you don’t check all the boxes and qualify (for assistance,) we don’t have applications, we don’t ask any questions, you need clothes, you come in and get some,” she added. “That time of single motherhood made me feel for a lot of other single moms out there.”
Volunteers like Heather Fischer, 33, Donna Castiglione, 41, and Liz Bearce, 38, got their service starts in the Weird Moms of Fort Worth group, too.
Fischer, who was one of seven children, said she received her older siblings’ clothes growing up. When she arrived in Fort Worth nearly five years ago, she found a home among the weird moms, she said.
Castiglione was born in Houston but moved to Fort Worth when she was 10, she said. She was looking for more mom friends, so she joined the group and eventually began seeing the importance of the clothing swaps within the community.
Donation Drop-off Location:
Benbrook Library, 1065 Mercedes St.
Donations bins are cleared out weekly
Source: Fort Worth Community Collaborative
The mother of four said shopping for clothes annually gets very expensive. The clothing swaps helped her and now she wants to give back. “It seems like such a simple mission, but it’s seriously brought a ton of relief to my family,” she said.
Warner remains adamant about positioning her organization in communities that may need a little more assistance, but at the same time, remains open to reaching as many people as it can, she said.
“We want to help you if you need help,” Warner said.
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.