Foster Closet of Isabella County Helps Foster Children Find Their Sense of Style

Story and Photos by Devon Rademacher

It all started in Holly Hansen-Watson’s Mount Pleasant garage. Toys, clothing, accessories and cribs sat in piles, collected for foster children. That was two years ago, and now the Foster Closet of Isabella County has more than doubled in size, and moved out of the Central Michigan University alumna’s home.

The foster closet is on 130 Pine St. in downtown Mount Pleasant, with a drop-off location on Michigan St. It shares two rooms with Carousel Corn, a popcorn business Hansen-Watson owns, but is separate from the closet. All types of clothing is separated into piles by gender and size.


A Tight-Knit Community
The clothing is donated from the community, and they also accept monetary donations. The non-profit relies on Central Michigan University volunteers to help sort the items.

“People here are awesome,” Hansen-Watson said.

There’s a closet full of beauty products, accessories and purses available, and across the room are toys and more hygiene products.


The closet serves anyone living in foster care in Isabella County, from babies to adults. Hansen-Watson said they see an average of 30-40 kids and teens a month. The foster child, or parent comes into the closet and picks out whatever and however much they want.

Hansen-Watson said, with money donated from community members, they are able to buy items that would not normally be donated.

“We were able to buy one boy a Boy Scout uniform, a teen basketball shoes and homecoming accessories for another girl,” she said.

Finding A Sense of Style
What sets the foster closet apart from other non-profits that help foster children with items they need is that the children and teens have free reign to choose what they like, aiding in the development of their individuality.

“It’s cool – they choose what fits them, not their family,” Hansen-Watson explains. “I’ve had kids come in and say, ‘this is the best store ever.’”

Sometimes, Hansen-Watson said, children come in with absolutely nothing. “Some come in with just hospital gowns, and they really have nothing.”

Hansen-Watson also has the chance to get to know the children that come in, and understand their quirky sense of style.


She said one teenage girl comes in, and only likes to wear plaid.

“Anytime I see plaid, I set it aside for her.”

One boy, she notes, has a funky sense of style and she will set aside things that she knows he will enjoy.

“He’ll come in and get it and I’ll be like, ‘I knew you were going to get that.'”

For the Love of Foster Parents
Holly is a foster parent to four children. She and her husband have one biological child, but when she moved out, Hansen-Watson said they felt alone.

She started the closet two months before she became a foster parent, but has fallen in love with the lifestyle.

“It’s hard work,” she said.

“But worth it?” I asked.

“Oh yes. So worth it,” Hansen-Watson said.dsc04830