Annie's Closet opens in new location

Apr. 29—Board members and community members gathered Tuesday, April 23, for a ribbon-cutting at the new location of Annie's Closet. Originally housed in a room at Beall Chapel Baptist Church, the ministry has now opened in its own location at 365 FM 2972 in Rusk. The Rusk Chamber of commerce hosted the ribbon-cutting.

The supply house for foster families, named after the stillborn child of Jimmy and Shelby Stewart, provides diapers, hygiene items, school supplies, toys, clothing, shoes and other items that may be needed by foster children. The new location has several aisles of shelving full of supplies, a storage room to keep additional items until they are sorted, an office and a room that can be used for supervised visitation.

Jimmy Stewart said the separate location for Annie's Closet was necessary as the original closet space was quickly outgrown and the church had to provide an additional room for supplies within a month. He also said it was a great honor to have the ministry named after his daughter.

Larry and Rhonda Brown spearheaded the project which became Annie's Closet.

Rhonda recounted an experience with a foster child in her home. She said the teenager needed underwear so she took the girl shopping with her own children. The foster child became distraught because there were so many choices and so many people around that it became overwhelming.

Annie's Closet allows foster families to come in by appointment to get the items they need privately.

Rhonda said the expansion of Annie's Closet is due to God's goodness.

"He just keeps making provision for every need," she said.

Angela Raiborn, Annie's Closet board member and former CASA case supervisor, echoed Rhonda's statement.

"As the needs come up, there's ways to provide. It's like God has just opened up doors," Raiborn said. "It's just amazing to watch it grow this way."

Raiborn said children who are moved into foster care often leave their homes with little more than the clothes they are wearing.

"Having a resource like this where family members who have the kids placed with them or foster families to come and get clothes and diapers and car seats, it's a good thing," she said. "There's such a need."

To donate or to obtain supplies, call 903-854-4614 or 903-806-6751, or send an email to