An Eagan nonprofit founded by a teenager helped more than 15,000 people in 2022.
When Kaitlyn Stock was 13 years old, she loved going to garage sales to find a good deal; when she found an Eddie Bauer stroller for only $10, her interest in giving back sparked a lifelong career.
Stock took the old stroller in hand and brought it home to her parents, where she was returned with dumbfounded glances. “I remember my mom being like, ‘You’re crazy. Why do you need this?’” Stock says. She laughs and recalls that she just needed it, but she just didn’t quite know what for yet.
“Later, my mom called up her friend, who happened to be a social worker at a local school. And she was like, ‘Listen, Kaitlyn’s lost her mind,’ and they talked about it. They laughed. Not even 24 hours later, that friend called back and said, ‘I know why she had to buy that,’” Stock says.
The friend had a client, who was getting a foster child the next day, and they had no supplies. When Stock was asked if she would like to donate the stroller, she didn’t hesitate. “At that moment, I realized there was a need in the community for this passing on of children’s items that nobody had tried to fill yet,” Stock says.
With that need for the community in mind, Stock later connected with a woman named Jen, who was doing work that consisted of direct donations instead of donating to stores like Goodwill. Jen proposed that Stock also needed to do this important work; it was a must in the community.
“I honestly do not know or remember how Jen and I connected; my family doesn’t know either, but it was meant to be. And I owe her a lot of how this all started,” Stock says.
Shortly after, Kaitlyn’s Kloset was officially founded—just before Stock’s 16th birthday.
The nonprofit organization has grown for eight years, helping more than 15,000 people in 2022. “When I started, I had so much trouble with self-doubt, especially because I was young,” Stock says. Now, Stock says that she is so happy that she took the leap. Regardless of her age, she now runs an organization that is helping thousands of people and making a difference in her community.
“It’s really important that we donate to actual people and not just stores, and what we see is that 90 percent of our products actually come back,” Stock says. “They choose to donate back to us instead of donation facilities.” Seeing products go into the hands of families and caregivers in need is an important part of what Kaitlyn’s Kloset does.
Kaitlyn’s Kloset is entirely donation and volunteer driven, but every bit of help truly makes an impact. Donors and volunteers can find links to help on Stock’s website, along with donation guidelines and information regarding current needs. “The biggest need we are seeing in the community right now are diapers and personal care products, like nail clippers,” Stock says.
“I used to run Kaitlyn’s Kloset out of my basement, and I’d have products up to my ceiling. Now, we are based out of Eagan,” Stock says. Drop-in hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Saints Martha and Mary Episcopal Church in Eagan.
With the growth and clear impact Kaitlyn’s Kloset has made on not only the community, but Stock’s personal life, her trajectory on what she studied in college would be a clear reflection of the real work she was doing in her community.
“I ended up studying and graduating with a degree in social work from the [University of Wisconsin-River Falls],” Stock says. Now, she can offer resource referrals to other programs through Kaitlyn’s Kloset like helping families apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and sharing information about rental assistance programs for her clients.
“If I were going to give any advice to young teenagers that want to make a positive impact, I’d tell them to just go for it. You can do it,” Stock says. “And there will be a lot of people that will question what you want to do, but you need to surround yourself with people supporting your dreams and goals.”