Can you locate your local fire station?

Please find it, because during the week of December 8-15, every fire house in the city will be collecting new and clean used children's clothing that will be given to needy children in the metropolitan area.

The clothes will go to the Children's Boutique, a mini-department store that provides clothing free of charge to the children of needy families who have been referred by the area school officials or social services agencies.

"During the past three weeks, people have been banging our door down for clothes," said Annette Reid who founded the boutique at 2728 Sherman Ave. NW. The boutique is open on weekdays.

Many children stay away from school, especially during the winter, because they lack adequate clothing, Reid said.

"People need warm sweaters, shoes and coats. I just bought 52 parkas with donated money and all the coats are already promised out," she said. "The families are just waiting for us to call but we need more clothing."

The boutique is holding a clothing fund-raiser Saturday to help increase its shoestring budget. The fund-raiser will include breakfast and a children's fashion show featuring students from the Gibbs and Bunker Hill elementary schools and McKinley High School. The students will model some of the clothing donated to the boutique.

The fund-raiser will be held at the Marriott Hotel, 22nd and M streets NW. Tickets are $20 each.

Working with an annual budget of $20,000, most from private donations, the boutique is open year-round to families from the District and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Families must have referral slips; they cannot simply walk in and get clothes, Reid said.

The 11-year-old boutique helps about 3,000 children a year.

Clothing donated at the firehouses -- only District fire stations are participating -- should be "serviceable and clean" and wrapped or placed in a bag, Reid said.

The donations can be made any time day or night because the fire stations are open 24 hours.

If donors want to receive a receipt for income-tax purposes, the clothing should be brought directly to the boutique between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Reid said.