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July 19, 2017
by Shayla Concannon

Anderson Township shop provides basics for foster kids


Read this story if you are looking for a touch of inspiration and a reminder of the goodness happening in our city! 


A social worker hands a young child a paper bag with instructions to get some of her stuff.

The girl packs things of importance to her – toys. She’s then whisked away to a foster family.

When she arrives at her foster home, she has nothing more than the clothes on her back and the sack of toys, Sue Jacob said. The story is one shared with Jacob by a friend who recently took in a foster child. It’s also a story that’s repeated daily throughout the area, she said.

Jack’s Closet, a mission of Clough United Methodist Church in Anderson Township, exists to help fill the needs of children in foster or kinship care.

Located on the bottom floor of Clough Methodist Church, 2010 Wolfangel Road, Jack’s Closet is a welcoming, boutique looking space with tidy racks and shelves filled with an assortment of merchandise – primarily clothes. Its operation is managed by Jacob and Karen Gibbs.

More: Hamilton County sends about half of its foster kids to other counties

Each family that comes in gets four or five outfits for each child, a jacket, one or two pairs of shoes, Gibbs said. Families are invited to return for additional clothes when seasons change or when the child needs a larger size.

Clothing sizes found in the shop start at preemie and run up through teen sizes. The selection also includes baby accessories, baby bottles, bibs, and undergarments. Donations are the primary source of the clothes and other goods found in the shop.

“Occasionally, if we’re missing a size, we’ll go places to pick up things,” Gibbs said. “So Kohl’s, when they have a big clearance sale, we pick up stuff there, so we’ll have something for everybody.”

The idea for Jack’s Closet started with the former minister of Clough Methodist Church, Marie Smith.

In the spring of 2014, she and her husband became foster parents.

“Their kids were all grown, and they just felt like this was a calling,” Gibbs said.

They took in a brother and sister. They arrived with nothing. A year later they returned home taking with them tubs of clothes. Two months later the siblings returned to the Smiths, again with nothing.

“That was when she thought about filling a tub to do something for foster families,” Gibbs said of their minister.

Jacob, the church’s director of missions, embraced the idea and ran with it. She previously operated a thrift store for a Christian school and felt up for the challenge.

Seed money for the mission was from contributions made in memory of Gibbs’ husband, Jack, who died in 2013. A shop benefitting children was an ideal use of the money, she said.

Gibbs actively promotes the closet and works to educate others about the current drain on resources the foster care system is experiencing – primarily due to the heroin epidemic.

In both Hamilton and Clermont counties, the numbers of children in foster care are at all-time highs, Gibbs said.

“The drug problem is really putting more children in foster care,” Jacob said. “We’re getting foster parents who are called and asked if they can come to the hospital and get the baby.”

Like the foster care system, Jack’s Closet is seeing its numbers increase as well. In its first two months of operation (November-December in 2015) the closet helped 10 children. In 2016 it provided for 99 children. In the first six months of 2017, the closet has served 76 children.

There’s capacity to serve more. Gibbs and Jacob emphasize that children in foster care and in kinship situations are all welcome.

Jack’s Closet is available to all, regardless of location but primarily serves families from Hamilton and Clermont counties. It also accepts donations. It is available seven days a week for families receiving children who are in immediate need of clothes, shoes and other life necessities.

To contact the closet, message them on their Facebook page, @jacksclosetCUMC, or call 513-476-4860 or 513-231-4301. Additional information can be found at

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