When we met, Kaitlyn Coyne was folding dress pants and shorts, hanging them up on clothing racks. This junior at Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs doesn’t work in a boutique. The racks were in the principal’s office, temporary storage space for Kaitlyn’s project, called “Suit Up With Kaitlyn.” She saw a need and did something about it, which is no surprise to those who know her.
“She’s a very strong-willed person in terms of wanting to make this world a better place, she sees a problem, she thinks about what she can do to fix it, and then she’s very proactive in achieving it,” said teacher Staycee Lehrman, who has helped Kaitlyn organize her efforts.
Kaitlyn is on the debate team, and she noticed that some kids can’t afford business clothing to look professional when they go to debate tournament. So she started a crusade to solicit donations.
“I’ve been absolutely astonished by the response, it’s been completely overwhelming, the amount of clothing I’ve received,” Kaitlyn said.
Dress for success was only a concept for some kids, until Kaitlyn handed them donated men’s and women’s suits, ties, and jackets.
“And you kinda see almost a spark in their eye, this confidence just builds up because they know I look nice and the audience and the judge knows I look nice so it really adds a confidence boost, absolutely,” said Kaitlyn.
“Suit Up With Kaitlyn” is even having an impact of kids who don’t need donated clothing. Kaitlyn has inspired her friends.
“It’s pretty impressive, I’m inspired by it to want to do more to help her out with it as much as I can because it’s a cool thing, it’s a really great cause,” said classmate Alexa Babinec.
“I think it’s a really good idea and it’s really gonna benefit a lot of the kids in this school who can’t get the type of business clothes they need for DECA and National Honor Society,” added Frankie Gaynor, another of Kaitlyn’s friends.
Last week, a school board member met with Kaitlyn to discuss ways to implement her program district-wide. She already has a room full of clothing, but they can always use more. The need is great, and Kaitlyn’s project may be the solution.
“I never expected it to take off this much at all, it’s been kind of spectacular,” Kaitlyn said with a grin.
Now this straight-A student with Ivy League ambitions is hoping her idea will help other kids realize their ambitions as well.