Clothing with Compassion - JFCS of Greater Philadelphia

Clothing with Compassion

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Our Closet – Powered by JFCS is a volunteer-driven program with the goal of providing the basic need of clothing to vulnerable individuals and their families throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. We distribute clothing free of charge by operating “pop-up” shops as well as providing emergency response packages to community members in crisis through JFCS and external case managers/organizations. We also provide customized packages of much-needed clothing items for those reentering the community after incarceration. There are no eligibility requirements to receive clothing. Our goal is to meet a basic need for community members so that they can better focus on handling other potential stressors in their lives, such as securing a steady source of income or finding permanent housing solutions, with confidence.

UPDATE: Right now, as a result of urgent need during the COVID-19 crisis, Our Closet has launched an emergency package delivery program for those in crisis. If you have an emergency need of clothing, please contact JFCS Care Navigation at 866-532-7669. If you are a social worker or case manager reaching out on behalf of a client, please contact Program Manager Shauna Ekezie at shauna@ourclosetpa.org. Clothing packages will be delivered straight to those in need in a safe, no contact fashion.

Pop-Up Shops – Neighborhood boutiques providing free clothing to all

Our Closet provides free clothing to Philadelphians in need via pop-up shops in their neighborhoods and central locations. There are no eligibility requirements or forms to fill out. All shoppers with all degrees of need are welcome to shop with Our Closet and receive clothing in a warm, welcoming atmosphere with dignity and respect. At present, all pop-up shops are canceled due to COVID-19.

Our Closet Emergency Response and Reentry Initiative

Our Closet works with case managers and social workers at JFCS and agencies across the city to provide emergency clothing packages to those in crisis who are unable to attend our pop-up shops. We also supply packages of greatly-needed clothing items for those reentering the community after incarceration and trying to build a new life.

About Our Closet – Powered by JFCS

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Our Closet History and Merger with JFCS

Jill Aschkenasy founded Our Closet in 2011 in response to a crisis she witnessed that year, a Philadelphia family’s house was destroyed by fire, and they were in need of the most basic items to regain stability during an undoubtedly frightening and stressful time. Hearing this, Jill reached out to her network to help this family, and the response she received was overwhelming. Donations poured in from friends, family members, and neighbors to help this unknown family rebuild their home. Jill founded Our Closet to continue to provide support to the many families and individuals whose stories remain untold.

In 2011, Jill started Our Closet with one pop-up location. That year, Our Closet distributed approximately 15 bags of clothing and worked with 20 volunteers.

Since its inception in 2011, Our Closet has seen an increasing need from the Philadelphia community for its services. What started off as one person and one location in 2011 grew through the years to two full-time staff people and more and more pop-up shop locations across the city, enabling Our Closet to serve more of those in need.

In 2016, Our Closet began exploring the possibility of merging with a larger entity in response to the organization’s rapid growth and reached out to JFCS.

The merge with Our Closet presented JFCS with an opportunity to offer programming that is at the very core of the JFCS mission, to support our community during the times they need it most with a basic human need. JFCS 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. The merger was finalized in November 2016.
Now, in 2020, Our Closet – Powered by JFCS operates 18 pop-up shops throughout the city.

Clothing Donations

Our Closet – Powered by JFCS accepts high quality, new and gently-used clothing of all sizes and seasons for adults and children. We ask that clothing be pre-washed prior to drop off, and placed in plastic bags which are labeled appropriately. For example, “Women’s L/XL pants.” Please make sure all clothing you donate meets the standards of Our Closet, meaning it has no stains, no tears or holes, and is not overly worn. This directly relates to the mission of providing clothing with dignity and respect. You can find the items of which we are most in need, and those we do not need at present, at https://www.ourclosetpa.org/donate-clothing/. All donations are tax-deductible, and can be dropped off at various locations through the Philadelphia region.

UPDATE: All clothing donation drop off locations except the Our Closet – Powered by JFCS warehouse are currently closed to donations. Donations are only being accepted, by appointment only, at our warehouse. Please contact ricki@ourclosetpa.org to make an appointment. Thank you.

Volunteer

Our Closet – Powered by JFCS volunteers are involved in every aspect of clothing distribution, from arranging clothing collections to sorting, bagging, and tagging clothing at our warehouse and physically running the pop-up shops. Our Closet accepts school and corporate groups, in addition to individuals looking to serve, and experiences can be ongoing or simply one-time. Click here to volunteer.

UPDATE: We are currently accepting small groups and individuals at our warehouse to sort clothing donations in a safe and socially distanced manner. If interested, please contact ricki@ourclosetpa.org.

What Makes Us Different

While there are a number of agencies working to help individuals meet basic needs, navigating these agencies can be complicated and daunting. Many agencies are simply inaccessible to the city’s most vulnerable. Our Closet – Powered by JFCS closes this accessibility gap by holding our pop-up shops in high-need neighborhoods and central locations, and maintaining no eligibility requirements or need for referrals to access service. We also present a warm, welcoming shopping experience where people have the choice of clothing to match their sizes and styles, and we only offer high quality clothing in very good condition.

Shopper Testimonials

“Our Closet pop-up shops are a wonderful morale booster and give me reassurance that when I go to reenter the workforce I will have the appropriate clothing. I want to thank Our Closet for providing a great service.”  – Antonia

“Good quality clothes, friendly people, respectful environment, wonderful experience.” – Theresa

“I met my love here! It’s good for me to get out and have company because I’m retired. It’s very convenient too. And we have fun while shopping. I always try to give clothing items that I find here to people in need who are homebound and can’t make it.” – Herman

“I like that you all cater to the community in a positive way and help people who can’t help themselves. I started coming here after I had a fire, and then I spread the word to others in the community. People would ask me ‘what are you wearing?’ and I’d send them to the next pop-up! Our Closet helps families and it’s a nice, safe space.”  – LarNiece

Volunteer Testimonials

“It was so great to volunteer with your organization, it was super organized and your giving, warm spirit did not go unnoticed. The level of respect for your clients shone through. Keep doing what you are doing.”  – Jane J.

“I’ve been volunteering for Our Closet for a long time because I enjoy helping, getting out and giving back. It brings me joy. Our Closet is a good organization, and I love the story of how the founder started out of her car and they have grown so much since then. There are so many people in need. Helping them through Our Closet is close to my heart.”  – Lina A. 

“I’ve wanted to volunteer for Our Closet for months and months and I finally was able to do so this past week, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I connected with so many of the shoppers and felt their true happiness at being able to take advantage of such an amazing program. I can’t wait to volunteer again.” – Jennifer P.

Partner Testimonials

“Our Closet, through versatile and compassionate pop-up shops, offers individuals and families in our neighborhoods clothing, free of charge, to help meet their clothing needs. Most importantly, people are treated with the utmost respect and the clothes are clean, neat, and of the highest quality. We at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia appreciate our partnership with Our Closet, the tremendous service it provides and the need it meets in our community.” – Nathan V. Luce, Business Operations Coordinator, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

“Our Closet has been such a blessing to so many of our clients. I know they really appreciate the packages when they truly are struggling. We look forward to a long and happy relationship with Our Closet. Organizations like yours are a huge part of our clients’ reentry successes. Thank you again for doing what you do!” – Bruce McClure, Supervisor, Adult Probation, Parole & Pretrial Services, Chester County, regarding Our Closet’s Reentry Initiative

“Our staff and families would like to thank Our Closet for the donated clothing received at the Red Cross House, the pop-up clothing closets, and emergency response program which allows multiple opportunities for families experiencing a disaster to meet their most immediate need. With the partnership of Our Closet, we are better able to deliver our mission in servicing the community. We cannot thank you enough for the important role you play!” – Laura Lim, Disaster Case Manager, Red Cross House

“We’re excited that the West Philadelphia Our Closet pop-ups are held at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. The mission of Our Closet fits well into our goal of unconditional hospitality; welcoming and affirming all who visit our space. We look forward to many more Wednesdays together.”  – Lynn Buggage, Canon for Administration, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral