Program For Homeless Kids Losing Its Home


After years of helping hard-pressed families find clothes for their kids, Kaitie’s Closet is now hard-pressed to find a home.

After years of helping hard-pressed families find clothes for their kids, Kaitie’s Closet is now hard-pressed to find a home. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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A non-profit group that helps outfit Payson’s homeless teens will find itself on the streets if supporters can’t find a new headquarters by April 1.

Kaitie’s Closet distributes clothing to needy children and used space in Messinger’s former funeral home to sort and tag donated clothing. It was recently told, however, it would need to find a more permanent home.

Founders Jack and Barbara Gooch had hoped to move into the old Center for Success building on South McLane Road and share the space with the Rim Country Friends of Ferals and Payson Assisting Displaced Students (PADS), but the school board turned down their offer.

That means come April 1, Kaitie’s Closet could once again be working out of the couple’s tiny garage. That is where the group started in 2010, shortly after the their granddaughter, Kaitie, passed away.

To honor her memory, the couple formed Kaitie’s Closet, collecting and redistributing gently used clothing to school-aged children.

Three years since its founding, Kaitie’s Closet has grown beyond Jack’s imagination.

The group holds monthly drives, distributing hundreds of articles of clothing at two area elementary schools to any family in need.

While the group spends an average of $200 a month to buy new socks and underwear, the rest of the clothing is donated by the community.

The average clothing drive attracts 200 people and each person walks away with at least three outfits, Jack said.

“It has grown way beyond what we thought it would,” he said.

The group is in desperate need of more volunteers and donations.

“We aren’t out begging for money even though we probably should,” Jack said. “We haven’t worried about where we will work out of because the Lord has always taken care of us.”

Roger Kreimeyer, a volunteer with PADS, said Kaitie’s Closet has been a huge help, providing clothing often at the last minute for homeless teens.

Clothing collection boxes are located at Frontier Elementary School, Julia Randall Elementary School, Payson Elementary School, Rim Country Middle School, Payson Physical Therapy, Scoops Ice Cream & Espresso and Beeline Business Equipment.

For more information or to volunteer, call (928) 468-1036. Send donations to Kaitie’s Closet, 304 W. Corral Drive, Payson, AZ 85541.

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