Even after installing their ninth closet into a metro middle school, each one is still bitter sweet for Colleen and Shane Thorn.
"It helps us through," Shane Thorn told Fox 9 News. "Knowing how many people we are helping helps us through some of our pain too."
The closets are named after their son Kody, who died almost a year ago. Kody was just 18 years old and was hanging out at a high school party when he tried a hit of heroin for the first time. He never woke up.
"After he passed, we just wanted to continue his legacy," explained his mother, Colleen Thorn.
Colleen Thorn remembers her son's habit of giving personal hygiene products to his friends and other teens in need -- things like deodorant or shampoo. He got them from the stockpile his mom created at home with her extreme couponing. Most the items Colleen Thorn buys, she gets at less than 80 percent of the original price.
"I think people take it for granted," she said. "You wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, get your deodorant. It's just there. For a lot of people, after they pay for their bills -- housing, clothing -- it's tough."
Since his death, his family created Kody's Closets and is now giving out even more. Each closet is filled with everything from tooth brushes to tampons.
"We want to help the kids feel good about themselves," Colleen Thorn explained, "because when you start out the day not feeling good, it just continues and carries."
Thanks to donations and drop off sites, the family checked one school off their waiting list on Monday. More than half the kids at Fridley High School qualify for free or reduced school lunches. Now, thanks to Kody's Close, the school nurse, coaches, and other staff can offer items inside for free.
"We are doing it quite often," Carrie Wrona told Fox 9 News. "Probably not even aware of all the students that could need extra help. That's our hope. We can give them these things and they don't have to worry -- and they can focus on school. They can succeed and graduate."
No closet is complete without a picture of Kody inside and a write-up about his family's mission. The Thorns say they hope to help improve students' self-esteem through the personal products they offer, improve daily lives and point kids on a path toward a brighter future. Shane Thorn said if his son was still alive, he knows exactly what he would say about the closets.
"I think he would be proud of us as parents, that we are still keeping his legacy, making sure we still remember him every day," he said.
For more information about Kody's Closets or get information on how to donate, visit http://www.kodyscloset.org/.
- Shampoo and (Men & Women's)
- Conditioner (Men & Women's)
- Bar Soap
- Body Wash
- Hand Soap
- Hand Sanitizer
- Body Lotion
- Deodorant (Men & Women's)
- Body Spray (Men & Women's)
- Tooth Paste
- Tooth Brushes
- Dental Floss
- Hair Brushes
- Hair Picks
- Hair Ties
- Ethnic Hair Products
- Hair Spray
- Hair Gel
- Hair Mousse
- Acne Cream
- Baby Powder
- Baby Oil
- Tissues (Small)
- Band Aids
- New socks
Travel-size items are also welcome, as shampoo, conditioner, lotion and a soap bar can be put into a bag to give out to a child.