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Khloe Thompson, the Young Mind Behind Khloe Kares, Delivers Smiles to Los Angeles’ Less Fortunate

Written By: Elise Edwards
Photographed By: Tae Kwon Khloe Kares

It took Khloe Thompson over an hour to get from her home in Orange County to our interview in Downtown LA. She used that time to get her homework done. She then grabbed an armful of clothes in preparation to pose for photos and answer questions in sweltering 90-degree heat. When I offered to assist with her wardrobe, she said, “I’m fine; I’m used to it.”  

“She’s not your average 12-year-old,” her mother, Alicia, offered up. 

That much is clear.  Khloe Kares

Thompson is the mastermind behind Khloe Kares, a non-profit dedicated to helping others that she launched at the tender age of 9. It all started with a homeless woman she passed by on her way to school each morning. “I wondered why she was out there and felt bad for her. I wanted to do something,” Thompson said. 

With her grandmother’s help, Thompson went home and sewed 25 bags that she filled with essentials. The first bag went to the homeless woman she came to know as Michelle, who served as her initial inspiration. “I was a little nervous,” Khloe admitted, “but I introduced myself and gave her the bag. She kept saying, ‘Thank you’ and ‘God bless you.’ It felt like the best day ever.”  

Soon, Thompson and her family found themselves sewing more and more bags while, at the same time, reaching out to friends and family for donations over Facebook. To date, they estimate they’ve donated over 5,500 bags.  

“I’m not nervous to go up to people anymore,” said Thompson. “I realize that they’re regular people. It’s just like talking to your best friend. That’s how I treat them.”

In addition to assembling and handing out bags, Thompson speaks out about her mission with people all over the country. From the Mark Leadership Conference at Rutgers University and a crowd of 70,000 at The Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, to numerous Boys and Girls Clubs that she hit during a cross-country service tour, she has no problem sharing her goals. 

And her reach doesn’t stop in the US. In 2016, Thompson was invited to Ghana by a group of girls whom she now visits on a yearly basis. She managed to raise enough money to build a six-stall bathroom facility and filtered water pump in their school, and she plans to continue doing the same work at different schools each year. “I mentor the girls, they send me letters and sometimes we have video chats. Ghana is one of my favorite places to visit, and we’re always sad when I leave.” Luckily for both parties, after being gifted an acre of land by the chief of a village there, chances are she’ll get to spend more time in the country. Her dream is to eventually build a community center on the property with an attached Airbnb to generate income and keep it flourishing.  

Thompson’s schedule is so jam-packed that in fifth grade, she started being homeschooled. It’s a change her mother said she welcomed. “She knew if she were homeschooled, she could help more people. My youngest child is in regular school, but that just wasn’t Khloe’s path. I never wanted anyone to think I was pushing Khloe, but this is who she is. She has an incredible way of connecting with people. When she hands out those bags, she starts intimate conversations that make everyone feel important at that moment.” 

While most of us can see what a unique quality that is, especially for a child her age, to Thompson, it’s just second nature. “I once gave a bag to a woman at a women’s shelter, and she asked for a hug. When I hugged her, she burst into tears and said she hadn’t been looked at or acknowledged in so long,” Thompson recounted. “That was upsetting to me. How do you not acknowledge a person just because they’re on the streets?”

Khloe Kares estimates it has helped tens of thousands of people so far, and there’s no plan to slow down. If Thompson has her way, she will eventually open a community center in Los Angeles where she can employ as many people as possible and give them the skills they need to start new careers. “They could clean up or help in the kitchen. There will be so many job opportunities, and it will be a place for all ages where everyone will feel welcome.”

Khloe Kares
@khloekares Khloe Kares