Caitlin Clark partners with a local food pantry to raise over $66,000

The Iowa women’s basketball star teamed up with the Coralville Food Pantry over the last month to help residents facing food insecurity.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark takes a photo with Coralville Community food Pantry workers during a charity event at the Coralville food pantry on Friday, April 21, 2023.

Iowa women’s basketball guard and National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark is teaming up with a Johnson County food pantry to raise money for residents facing food insecurity.

When the Iowa women’s basketball team was making its historic run in the NCAA Tournament in March, the Coralville Food Pantry teamed up with Clark to help raise $22,000 for the organization.

The goal was quickly surpassed as the Iowa women’s team made national news by leading the Hawkeyes to its first national championship appearance. Clark has now helped the pantry raise over $66,000 for those facing food insecurity, with all donations made to the pantry matched dollar-for-dollar by Green State Credit Union in Iowa City.

Coralville Community Food Pantry Executive Director John Boller said the organization has benefited from all the exposure the women’s basketball team has received over the last few months, with donations coming in from across the U.S. and even overseas in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

“To be able to have an infusion of these really generous funds coming from all over the world made an immense impact on the work that we’re doing,” Boller said.

RELATED: Caitlin Clark’s donation event at the Coralville Food Pantry

Boller said after the NCAA officially implemented its name, image, and likeness policy in July 2021, which allowed college athletes to receive compensation for endorsements and sponsorships, he reached out to Clark to see if there were opportunities for the pantry to work with her.

“Caitlin was just coming off a stellar freshman year, so we reached out to her uncle, who is overseeing her business operations, and chatted for several months about some sort of partnership, which they were really excited to pursue,” he said.

Clark first partnered with the pantry in spring 2022 to raise over $23,000 and encouraged community members to donate toiletry products like shampoo, soap, and toilet paper, which Boller said the pantry struggles to keep in stock.

“We exceeded our goal last year to raise $22,000 in honor of her No. 22 jersey,” he said. “We exceeded that in year one, and this year, we have crushed that goal, which is really exciting.”

Clark appeared at the final in-person donation event on Friday at the pantry’s new location at 804 13th Ave., where dozens of community members attended to donate items and get a picture with the women’s basketball star.

Map by Jami Martin-Trainor/The Daily Iowan

While mingling with fans, Clark said it was special to see how much the fundraiser has grown since last year’s campaign.

“We did this last year in their old building, and now they’ve been able to move over to their new building, which has been cool to be a part of,” Clark said. “The entire community rallying around this place and wanting to give back I think is really the coolest part.”

Coralville resident Maggie Willems attended the event with her 10-year-old daughter. Willems said it was their first time visiting the pantry.

“It seems like a great combination to donate and meet someone that we’re both really excited to see,” Willems said.

Willems said she told her daughter that she had a surprise for her when she picked her up from school earlier in the day.

“I said, ‘You’re going to get to meet someone, who would you most like to meet in this world?’ and her response was, ‘Caitlin Clark,’” Willems said.

Moving forward, Boller said with the success of this year’s fundraiser, the pantry is looking forward to continuing partnering with Clark and other UI athletes.

“Caitlin was our first one, and I feel like this has opened the door to all sorts of opportunities in the future, which we’re excited about,” he said.