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Jen Kyllonen: Co-Founder of Pink Feather Foundation

Pink Feather Foundation provides donated clothing to students in need. In the four years since Pink Feather Foundation began, they’ve helped over 500 students feel like their best selves walking into a classroom. The organization is run entirely through donations and volunteers and is a community-driven effort to give kids access to the clothes they need to be confident in school. Learn more here!

What inspired you to start Pink Feather Foundation?

We’ve been a nonprofit for 11 years, we started this when our children were young. We wanted our children to know their neighbors and help one another, which is an important message that has gotten lost in society today. We started with small things in the community like Thanksgiving baskets, but people always asked us for a mission and we knew we had to come up with something. During Christmas in 2018, we put together toys and clothes for a little girl in need. She was a shy, quiet kid who always sat in the back of the class. When she returned from break, she was beaming in her new clothes and participating in class. After that, we knew that’s what we were meant to do.

Can you explain the process of students getting access to clothing?

Oftentimes, teachers will go to kids in their classroom who they know need our services and will introduce them to our website. It’s an opportunity for them to bond. The teachers know these kids and their stories, so they know who needs help. The kids get to pick their own items and it’s a great sense of pride for them. These kids normally get hand-me-downs that don’t fit or aren’t clothes that they like, so it’s an amazing feeling to get to choose something for themselves. The boxes are sent discreetly to the school, and the teacher will deliver it to the student. We keep everything confidential to protect the kids’ dignity.

How does clothing affect a student’s experience in school?

For a lot of kids we work with, clothing gives them a chance to feel like their peers. It allows them to be confident in the classroom and not have insecurities holding them back. Our ultimate goal is to give kids the best educational experience possible, and this helps them get there. On the flip side, our volunteers are also greatly affected by this work. The teens that work with us get to see the need in our community and feel grateful for how much they have. Even our teachers are affected, it feels great for them to be able to help a student who they can see is in need of support.

Do you have any plans to expand to other schools or areas?

We currently work in two schools, MSAD 17 and RSU 16. My favorite part of this job is watching the program come to fruition. We’re at a really good point and we’ve learned so much along the way. I’m proud of how organized we are. Seeing the kids volunteer and hearing the success stories of the packages that are delivered is amazing. These packages really make a difference and are stepping stones to a better experience in school. We’ve learned that this needs to be a community-driven program. We want to create a working business model that we can bring to other districts so that they can see what works.


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