Meet the People: Robin Eckstein

Robin Eckstein, a volunteer at CAT's thrift store, holds a black cat in her arms while standing in front of a shelf full of donated items.

Army veteran sorts clothes, helps cats

After more than seven years in the U.S. military, Army veteran Robin Eckstein now serves in a new way.

“Volunteering is extremely important for me as way to give back to the community and connect with like-minded people,” she shares.

And volunteer she does! Robin is a volunteer finance officer with the American Legion Post 134, does advocacy work in areas as diverse as veterans’ affairs and climate change, and speaks in schools about her experience in Iraq. But there’s one activity that’s especially meaningful to her.

“I volunteer to help animals because they speak to my heart,” Robin says.

A vegetarian with four cats of her own, Robin fostered for years with an animal rescue organization in Wisconsin before moving to Portland, Oregon, four years ago. Unable to foster in her apartment, she sought out a way to put her love of animals into action. She found it at the CAT Thrift Store.

More than three years later, Robin is still at it. She sometimes works the register and assists customers, but her favorite task is sorting clothes. “You get to see so many weird things,” she says, adding, “If something really funky comes in, I’ll put it on over my clothes and dance to make the staff laugh!”

One thing that surprised her is how many high-quality donations come into the store. “It’s amazing what people get rid of: $200 pairs of jeans, vintage shirts. I basically get all my clothes by thrifting now.”

Aside from fun finds, the CAT Thrift Store is important to Robin for many reasons. “It’s not just helping the cats,” she notes, “It’s also helping the environment and people with limited means.”

After three years of weekly clothes sorting, Robin has no plans to stop any time soon. “The people at CAT are so nice, so welcoming. I’ve never felt more valued as a volunteer than I do here. It’s a great volunteer opportunity.”

To learn more about CAT Thrift Store shopping, donations, and volunteer opportunities, visit

About Cat Adoption Team

Cat Adoption Team (CAT) is the largest cat shelter in the Pacific Northwest. We offer adoption, foster care, and veterinary services to homeless cats and kittens.

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