Janet Weninger and son Christian

Janet Weninger and son Christian have opened a thrift store to raise money for foster teens aging out of the system.

Chandler residents and mother-son duo Janet and Christian Weninger are not new to being philanthropists.

But they are adding a new effort to their many ongoing philanthropic efforts with Born Again Vintage at 590 N. Alma School Road in Chandler. Born Again Vintage became a reality on Nov. 11, with a grand opening in Chandler. The goal is to raise funds to help those aging out of foster care.

 From the time Christian was in grade school, his mother Janet feels he had a calling to do something important.

“Christian has a beautiful heart and has consistently gone above and beyond to make lives better,” she said. “As a boy, he would invite the whole neighborhood over at least twice a month for a big celebration, ‘just because.’ 

“We started working together to help end child abuse when he was very young. He would put on events at the local ice cream shop and at his school during fall festivals – basically whenever possible – that would raise awareness about the thousands of children suffering in our state.” 

Janet, the wife of state Rep. Jeff Weninger, owned a clothing boutique in Chandler at that time and on her and Christian’s quest to do more, she came across Childhelp.

 Janet had been hard-hit by the news story of a daycare worker silencing a child who suffocated due to the cuffing of her mouth for too long. The story hit a nerve for Janet, as the child was a foster child who she felt deserved a voice after her death.

“My heart was aching, but not as much as my blood was boiling over the fact that no one was being charged in the child’s death,” Janet recalled. “Everyone was allowed to just keep on going about their lives as if nothing had happened. 

“Meanwhile, this beautiful girl was tagged as an accidental death. I had a 4-year-old daughter at the time, and I recall sitting in the back of my boutique and crying, thinking ‘I will not give up until I know that every child is safe in our foster care system.”

 Fast forward five years, and Janet and her kids were actively involved in Childhelp, assisting with the abundance of kids entering into state care, with not enough places to house them. 

The state Department of Child Safety was opening the first ever placement center in Arizona at that point, where kids could stay while a safe and stable home was found for them. 

“The placement center was so important to me that I was willing to give up everything for it, including my own plans and dreams, as well as my children’s toys, clothes and furniture,” Janet said. 

“I even went into debt to ensure that new baby beds and everything that was needed was provided. My hope was that the next generation would never have to hear about another child being hurt or killed while in foster care. 

“The center curbed the number of those in foster care by a significant amount, and the beautiful testimonials prove lives were changed for the better.”

Janet expanded her efforts by helping the homeless. 

She partnered with DCS workers to organize the donations that began with Janet’s many years ago. The donations had taken over a massive storage room at DCS with a continuous flow of new donations every week. 

These often went to the homeless population, many winding up in Janet’s basement while they found new homes.

“Many of the items being donated were not needed for kids in foster care or the homeless,” Janet said. “I had them all in my basement for sale so we could get needed funds to help the people who needed housing after aging out of foster care. 

“I jokingly set up the basement like my old clothing boutique after Christian moved out, as some of the items were really expensive and most were like new. My basement quickly became a business, and folks said I must open a thrift store and sell the items.”

Janet credits her son Christian with the success of the store’s grand opening. 

“Christian loves to do events and to be involved in things that are bigger than just his own personal gain, so he was eager to help and the day that he decided to ask the community to help was the day that this project took on a life of its own,” Janet said.

  Donations began pouring in, and Janet is overwhelmed by the community support. 

The store is packed with clothes for every size and age, as well as shoes and accessories. The prices range from $1 for a pair of socks to $25 for a beautiful formal gown.

“Our desire is to help bridge the gap for many young adults that find themselves alone and hopeless after the money and the support is gone,” said Christian, adding:

 “We are so grateful for the clothing donations and support we have seen from local Facebook group members and invite everyone to shop for a cause in our beautiful location in the heart of Chandler.”

Every Sunday Born Again Vintage will upload ten new items to their online store at bornagainvintage.com. These pieces will be available online-only for one week.

 For those who prefer to shop in person, the new Chandler location will have hundreds of thrifted offerings, and would love donations from the community. For tax-deductible donation consideration, contact Janet at Janet@CrusadersofLove.org.

 The store is accepting clothing, accessories and monetary donations at this time.