Clean closets = charity

In a time of war, protest and controversy, a clothing drive at NKU held last week will bring joy to many of the Cincinnati area’s less fortunate.

March 17-21 was National Clean Out Your Closet Week. In spirit of the occasion, NKU’s Staff Congress sponsored the “National Clean Out YourCloset Week Dress For Success” campaign all week.

Staff Congress asked the campus for business-appropriate clothing for both men and women. For women, according to the flier for the campaign, Staff Congress suggested the campus community donate suits, dresses, skirt and pant suits, blouses, jackets, blazers, scarves, handbags, unused pantyhose (packaged) and professional shoes.

For men, the flier said, Staff Congress suggested the donation of complete suits, suit pants or suit coat separates, blazers, ties, Docker slacks, dress shirts (both long-and short-sleeved), dress shoes and socks.

The campaign benefited two non-profit organizations, Dress For Success and the Greater Cincinnati Interfaith Hospitality Network. Dress For Success, an international organization with an office located in downtown Cincinnati, dresses low-income women and female college students from Southern Ohio College of Business and NKU for job interviews, said Julie Gehauf, Dress For Success Cincinnati’s store manager.

Dress For Success will pick out an outfit that makes their client look the best they can, Gehauf said. Dress For Success will also give the client the outfit for free, and will give them another free outfit once the client has found a job.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network Greater Cincinnati is composed of a network of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish congregations, according to an article written by IHNGC Board member Phil Breen in 2002.

“We’re an emergency shelter,” said Julie Murphy, the administrator of IHNGC. “We’ll provide emergency shelter for 30 to 45 days,” she continued.

IHNGC also assists their guests in attaining jobs, Murphy said, by helping them get interview-quality clothing and preparing their resumes. IHNGC also makes sure people get medical services they need. The IHNGC is one of the few homeless services in Cincinnati that serve families with single fathers, two-parent families or teenage boys, Murphy said.

“Our mission is to provide hospitality,” Murphy said.

Breen points out that IHNGC is one of only two services in Cincinnati that will serve a family with males. “Our guests,” he said, “are families who are temporarily homeless for a variety of reasons.” He continued that IHNGC exclusively serves families with children, whether they are two-parent families or families with a single-mother or single-fathers.

IHNGC was established on October 27, 1991, Murphy said. IHNGC is part of a national program called Interfaith Hospitality Networks for the Homeless (IHNH),and is headquartered in Summit, New Jersey.

IHNGC takes either referrals from members of the community or walk-in guests, Murphy said.

This is the second year Staff Congress has sponsored the “National Clean Out Your Closet Week Dress For Success” campaign, according to Staff Congress President Jeff Chesnut. “Last year,” Chesnut said, “one of[Staff Congress’] members came across Dress For Success and their Clean our Your> Closet Week and we felt it would be an outreach opportunity to have an on-campus drive.”

Since Dress For Success only serves female clients, Chesnut said, Staff Congress felt they had to seek out an organization that also helped male clients so that men could also donate clothing. Staff Congress found the Interfaith Hospitality Network and decided to include them in the same clothing drive campaign.

“We wanted to include everyone in the campus community,” Chesnnut said. He added, an event like this “helps staff members clean their closets, and it helps out, too.”

For more information about Dress For Success, go to