Contact: Melanie London
Our Closet distributes clothing free of charge by operating "pop-up" shops at 18 locations around Philadelphia and providing emergency response packages to community members in crisis. 6 of the 18 sites are recognized Zones of Peace, and all are in areas where the need is great. There are no eligibility requirements to receive clothing. Once a month the Pop-Up includes a program, recently, e.g. “Reentry Awareness.”
Those who come to the Pop-Up Shops are treated to an extraordinary experience which includes a warm and respectful welcome, consultations to elicit each shopper’s fashion preferences, and friendships with other shoppers, volunteers and staff. The attention given to each shopper resembles that given to shoppers at high end clothing stores: unhurried, personable, sensitive, and dignified. In addition, Our Closet partners with social workers from Jewish Children and Family Services and the Red Cross to get clothing to people whose situations prevent them from shopping for themselves.
Our Closet carefully inspects all donations and only takes good quality professional / casual wear, children’s and infant’s clothing, shoes, accessories and costume jewelry. Donors learn that charity is more than getting rid of what they don’t want. Charity is a way of thinking about what the person receiving their donation will feel as they look at what’s being offered.
Just as gun violence, domestic abuse, and bullying are violations of the body, in a less obvious way so is not having clean and quality clothes. Those who are dressed well are less likely to be judged harshly or dismissed out of hand. It is powerful to think how being able to have clean, fashionable and well-fitting clothing (and not have the expense associated with it) might serve as an intervention point for violence against the people who are most vulnerable in our city.
Jewish Family and Children's Services (JFCS,) founded in 1855, is a well-established Philadelphia nonprofit operating in four locations throughout the region. It provides Our Closet with the necessary support and infrastructure to sustain its expansion to reach more in need while growing in a thoughtful and strategic direction.