BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Just right off N. Walton in Bentonville is where you’ll find a thrift shop boutique and a welcoming smile to greet you.
Sammy Laney is the exec. director and founder of the DEB Project, which stands for deserving, enriched, and blessed.
Inside the shop, you’ll find racks of clothing, shoes, and reminders that you are loved.
Laney used her passion for giving back to create a boutique where foster parents and kids can have a shopping experience at no cost.
“We are funded by people like you,” Laney said.
The story behind the DEB Project isn’t just on the sales floor but shown on the walls.
“This picture was taken the last night that I got to spend time with her,” Laney said.
Laney founded the project in 2012 after her childhood friend Deborah took her own life.
“One thing I didn’t know was Deborah’s back story and I think she wanted it that way,” Laney said.
Deborah was adopted and moved to NWA as a child and formed an instant bond with Laney.
“I want to create a legacy for foster children from what she went through,” Laney said.
Since then, the DEB Project has only grown, starting from inside Laney’s home to a storefront, offering more than just clothes.
“We have food on one side and diapers, wet wipes, socks, and underwear for girls and boys on the other,” Laney said.
It also has an online shop, offers internships and scholarships for students, and a dog therapy program for local schools.
“We’re 100% volunteers, 100% donations from our wonderful support of the community and vendors,” Laney said.
Laney has her eyes on even bigger goals. She’s working on getting a new building that’ll include a therapy center and a cafe where foster kids can work and enroll in a mentorship program.
“It’s a very big goal but you know what if it’s not big, it’s not scary,” Laney said.
A remarkable woman, who in the last year helped over 1,500 children in Northwest Arkansas, all in honor of another remarkable woman.
“I say that it’s our story but her legacy,” Laney said.
A legacy that’s extending far beyond the walls of the shop.