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I had the absolute JOY to talk to Khloe Thompson, founder of Khloe Kares, for Channel Kindness Radio. In talking about her organization, operating during the pandemic, and gratitude, I gained a world of hope and compassion. Listen in to hear Khloe share about her intentions and her work!
Please also see the full transcript below.
You’re listening to Channel Kindness radio.
TAYLOR: Hey, it’s Taylor Parker of Channel Kindness Radio, and I am here today with Khloe Thompson of Khloe Kares. Khloe, would you like to introduce yourself and tell us who you are and what you do?
KHLOE: Hi! I’m Khloe Thompson. I’m 13 years old, and I have my own nonprofit organization called Khloe Kares where I make tote-like bags, and I fill them with bare necessity items, and I pass them off to homeless women, as well as I teach kids leadership workshops in business skills so they have the same opportunity as I did. And I instill water pumps in bathroom facilities in Ghana.
TAYLOR: That’s a really beautiful message and so much to be doing at such a young age. Can you share how old you are?
KHLOE: I’m 13.
TAYLOR: 13! So can you tell me about the overview of Khloe Kares – how old you were when it started, and what it looked like before it grew into this massive movement?
KHLOE: Yeah. Well, I was 8 years old when I first started Khloe Kares. Originally, I had just passed the same homeless woman on my way to school. I would just ask my mom how or why she was out there. My mom, she would tell me some reasons, and I would just feel really bad for her. Also at the time my grandma, she was teaching me how to make tote-like bags and shoulder bags. So I told her that I saw this woman, and I wanted to do something to help her. So we decided we would incorporate the bags I was making and fill them with bare necessity items that we all use on a daily basis. So that’s really how it all started.
TAYLOR: That’s a very real and relatable story. I have had that conversation with my sister many times on ‘can I explain to her who these people are and why I’m seeing them every day’ and why we don’t really take the time to engage with them. So I just want to applaud you for really asking those questions, and then taking those answers and doing something real and meaningful. Would you be able to share about how Khloe Kares has grown from just making those few bags to hand to people to what it is today?
KHLOE: I feel like Khloe Kares really went from me passing out bags – and I started with just passing out 25 “Kare Bags.” It all really started with me passing out Kare Bags. I’ve now passed out 6,000 bags. Then people wanted me to talk to them about what I did, and so, I started speaking about Khloe Kares and that ended up leading to traveling and being able to travel all over the world and getting to talk to other people. People all over the world saw what I was doing, and they wanted me to speak with them. That’s the reason why I got invited to Ghana. Also I was invited because my grandma, she does this whole – trips to Ghana, where she brings people back to their roots. So one of my grandma’s best friends, she had gone on one of the trips with her, and she had fell in love with Ghana. She ended up moving there, and while she was there she mentored these 12 girls. And so, those 12 girls are an amazing 12 girls, they’re called “Dawn’s Sunday Girls”. My grandma has gone there to visit her, and she had shown them some videos of what I do. They really wanted me to come out there and talk to them about what I do because out there, there’s not really much homelessness because what they have is – like if one of your friends or family members or someone that you know is homeless or doesn’t have a home, you let them stay in your home until they get back on their feet. So it’s just such an amazing thing what they do out there. So they didn’t fully understand what I did, so they wanted me to come out there and help them understand what I was doing. And also, we weren’t just gonna go out there and do nothing. So, we wanted to install water pumps in bathroom facilities because we knew that there was a need for water. So, that’s kind of how we grew when it came – yeah, that’s how Khloe Kares grew.
TAYLOR: Yeah! So, how would you say the work that you do is different based on the different spaces that you’re in? I’m guessing that the work that you do at home is very different than the work that you do when you’re traveling around the state or speaking to others, or when you’re traveling out to Ghana with your family.
KHLOE: Yeah! I feel like it’s been really interesting because it went from being booked and busy – and it’s also really different because now I have to do a bunch of Zoom calls at home. You know? And so, I’m not able to go out and talk to people and go interact with people and also, the difference between you know, working at home from working out in public and out in the world is the fact that I, like I said, I don’t get to interact with people and that’s something I really love to do. But at least now I get to have Zoom calls, and I’m still able to talk with people but yeah, it’s a big change.
TAYLOR: Yeah, I guess so! So, can you tell me a little bit about how you and Khloe Kares operate? I’d love to learn more about the ‘how’ of your mission and your work!
KHLOE: Yeah, it’s really a family thing. You know, my family, they helped me from the beginning to now. And so, they help me pack the bags. They’ve helped me all through Khloe Kares. My family really helps me operate. And they’re the reason why I’m able to do Khloe Kares, you know, because they’re always there for me.
TAYLOR: Does each member of your family contribute to this?
KHLOE: Yeah, I feel like each member of my family does contribute to what I do. Like my grandma, she was the one who taught me how to sew. She also helps us when we need help to make bags, and she also travels with us every time we go to Ghana. My dad, he’s always helping us when it comes to when we have to pack hundreds of bags when we used to do Kare Bag days, so he always helps us pack a lot of things. My mom also helps with a lot of the sewing and is always helping when it comes to everything. She also travels with me. She’s my travel buddy. Then my little sister, she really does help too. She packs the bags. Also a lot of my family, they come to all of my events, so they’re always supporting me.
TAYLOR: Yeah, talk about family support! That’s so beautiful. I’m so glad that you have that kind of support and care right there in your household. You mentioned “Kare Bag Days”. What are those?
KHLOE: We do a special day where we make over probably around 100 bags. With Kare Bag Days, people–we can come together and we get to all give back. So, I do like a post on social media that ‘on this day here’ and then ‘at this time, we’re all gonna come together and pass out some Kare Bags’. And so a handful of people, they always come, and we always have people who are like our usuals who always come and pass out the bags with us. That’s really what Kare Bag Days are is so people can come together and give.
TAYLOR: That’s so wonderful. So what exactly are in these bags? Can you tell me all the different things that you pack in there?
KHLOE: Yeah, in my Kare Bags there’s deodorant, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, shampoo, conditioner. Then during the summertime, we put sunscreen. Then during more colder times, we put beanies, scarves, gloves, and then like extra blankets; hand sanitizer, lotion, wipes – did I say socks? I think I said socks. Yeah. But we always put extra socks in and yeah, there’s a lot of stuff. There’s like over 25 full-size items inside my bags.
TAYLOR: That sounds like such a blessing for the people that you’re able to help out. I can’t imagine what receiving this bag unprompted could mean to someone who is experiencing crisis or experiencing homelessness. So I just want to personally thank you for the work that you’re doing. I know it’s work like this and people like you who are really contributing to this kinder, braver world that we’re trying to build.
KHLOE: Thank you.
TAYLOR: Of course! So talk to me about what Khloe Kares looks like in the wake of this pandemic that we’re in.
KHLOE: Well, it’s been really interesting. It’s been from being booked and busy to now being on Zoom calls all the time. It’s not just being active, it’s also been a huge thing like – on my mental transition as well. I was so excited about all the big things I had going on this year, and they’ve either been pushed back or canceled. So, it really sucks because I go from really excited to really disappointed. And so, it’s been really hard with that too. It’s been such a learning experience, especially learning about the person that I want to be and the person that I am. What I do includes being around people. I love being around people. This has stopped me from doing that, and so, it really kinda sucks. I’ve also found ways to be active, and I feel like I’m just trying to stay busy. I feel like I’m busy just at home.
TAYLOR: Yeah, I have been having kind of a hard time navigating this as well. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a thirteen-year-old trying to navigate this while also running your own nonprofit organization. You have quite the plate–you have quite the amount of things on your plate.
KHLOE: Not really, you know? This is just the usual, what comes with the job.
TAYLOR: Right, but it would be my guess that when you were eight and you started doing this, you never thought that this job would turn into this massive movement that you’ve created.
KHLOE: No, I thought it would just stop at those twenty-five bags, and it really didn’t.
TAYLOR: Yeah! You mentioned in something you said recently about, you’re learning a lot about the person you are and the person you wanna be. Who is the person you wanna be, Khloe?
KHLOE: I feel like I wanna be a really nice person for the rest of my life. I wanna continue to give, I wanna just be that person that’s there to cheer people up, I wanna be thoughtful, I wanna be kind, you know? I wanna be giving. I wanna be all those things. And I want to be inspirational! I want to inspire people! There’s so many things that I really wanna be as a person. And I feel like there’s no limits to what you can be!
TAYLOR: Word! And it sounds like you already are all of those things! You’re saying about how you want to be a kind person, a giving person, a compassionate person, an inspiration, and I can tell you just from my own view, you already are all of those things–at least to me, but I know too many others. So don’t sell yourself short girl!
KHLOE: Thank you!
TAYLOR: But you really lead me into this next area of this conversation that I wanna have with you of, you know, while we’re in the pandemic, while we’re having to practice physical distancing and social connection and trying to find new ways for our hearts and our minds to operate right now, what are things that are bringing you inspiration and joy these days?
KHLOE: I’m inspired by anything! You know, I read a lot. And I love to read, because it’s my way to escape, you know, it’s my way to go to a whole new world where I can be a different person, and maybe in a better world right now. And I’ve taken on collecting vinyls! So I make sure I listen to a new record daily. So all my music, it ranges from sixties to about like the eighties.
TAYLOR: I love that. What book have you read most recently and what has been your favorite vinyl that you’ve listened to recently?
KHLOE: Okay, so I just finished reading this book called Making Trouble, and it’s all about like kind of breaking the rules, but in a good way. You know? Like, doing the right thing basically, when it comes to giving back, when it comes to fighting for your rights. It’s great. It’s a great book. I would recommend it to anyone. And there’s one for adults, and there’s also one for kids. So the one that I got was for kids. And then my favorite record that I’ve listened to right now … ugh, that’s a hard question! I really like Queen, I love their records, and I just got a Prince record, and I really like that one!
TAYLOR: Do you know which one?
KHLOE: It is .. I don’t know!
TAYLOR: I grew up listening to Prince records, so this is a total full-circle moment for me! I hope you get all of the joy from listening to those vinyls. That sounds like, one, such a cool hobby to have, and two, you have some really great taste that’s never going to bore you!
KHLOE: Thank you!
TAYLOR: Of course! So we talked about joy and inspiration, but what are things that you are grateful for these days. And I come at this asking this question because I know when we realize how major everything happening in the world is right now, we can feel very very upset with the state of the world, and we can feel very helpless or hopeless, and I think it’s really important that we take time to not only find things we’re grateful for but acknowledge that and share that with others in a way that can encourage them to also find things that they’re grateful for. So, where has your gratitude been?
KHLOE: I think my gratitude has been waking up every morning, you know? There could be a day it doesn’t happen, but it’s happened every day now! And I’m very happy that I’m able to wake up every morning, and see my wonderful family, and hang out with my family, and learn new things, and read a book this morning, you know? I’m just happy to be alive, you know? And I’m happy to–reading brings me so much joy, and so, being able to read is one of my favorite parts of the day. I’m so grateful for books in general. I’m so grateful for the family that I have, that I get to spend months and months of quarantine with them, and be able to spend time with them. And I’m kind of grateful for the quarantine, because before, I was ripping and running, and I just wasn’t really able to spend as much time with them. And so, I think I’m really happy for the little things that happen. Just the little things, you know?
TAYLOR: For sure! And I can tell you in that last bit of being grateful for the quarantine, you’re not alone in that! With all of the young people that I’ve talked to recently, be it my siblings, my cousins, my friends, the children of my friends, pretty much all of them have said that they’re grateful because they have never spent so much time with their family before. As weird and unprecedented as this time is, and as scary as it can be, I’m so glad that people are starting to be able to find comfort in the family time that they may have missed out on earlier. So I’m really grateful that you have such a safe, and welcoming, and loving family to stay with during all of this. And I’m really grateful that you shared your gratitude with me today!
KHLOE: I’m really grateful I actually got to share my gratitude! I haven’t done that in a while!
TAYLOR: Yeah! One thing I like to do before every meal–as kind of a meditative process, I have friends that do it as a prayer, is I try to think of one thing that I am grateful for in that moment. And it can be as simple as, you know, I’m grateful that I am about to eat, because I am so hungry, or it can be I’m grateful that I got to talk to one of my grandparents today that I haven’t talked to in weeks! And so, I try to keep gratitude in the forefront of my mind at all times, but part of that is also hearing from others and learning about what they’re grateful for, because it might encourage some gratitude in me that I hadn’t thought of previously. So thank you!
TAYLOR: I only have one last question for you. And I would just want to know: what are some words of wisdom that you would share with other young people if they know they want to make a difference but they’re not sure how they should do that?
KHLOE: Yeah! Don’t let your age stop you from what you want to do, because your age is just a number, and it does not define your impact. And also, during this time, this is a great time to give, you know? There’s so many people in the world that need so much help, and I feel like there’s always going to be that young person that’s going to help them, and so this is a great time to give back.
TAYLOR: And that’s such a beautiful and true statement for all times, but especially right now! So thank you so much for sharing that with me, for those that are listening to this, for those that will read this interview transcript, I really appreciate all of this conversation that we’ve had today. Was there anything that you wanted to talk about that we didn’t get a chance to touch on?
KHLOE: Um, no, no. But thank you for having me as well!
Of course, of course, and I just want to end this by just really quick, affirming you in everything you’re doing. You are one of the most remarkable young people I have ever gotten to meet, and I’m so glad I got to have this conversation with you. I don’t say that to sound cool, or make you feel great, I say that because it’s honest, and I want you to know how absolutely remarkable you are, and the work that you’re doing is! I am so proud of every single life you’ve been able to change, and I cannot wait to hear about all the lives you’ll change in the future. So thank you so much, Khloe, for all of the work that you do.
KHLOE: Thank you! You really made my day with that!
TAYLOR: Of course! You made my day by talking to me here! So thank you for being a guest on our Channel Kindness Radio! And please let us know if there are ever projects or stories that you’d like us to amplify on the Channel Kindness platform, because we would love to help you share your work and your messaging in any way you’d want, so thank you so much Khloe!
KHLOE: Thank you!
TAYLOR: You’re welcome! Thank you so much for listening! Please stay tuned for more stories like Khloe’s on ChannelKindness.org.