Teens for jeans program gives back to local homeless shelters
Rather than give up the shirt off your back, why not a pair of jeans?
Inspired by a trip to a local homeless shelter as part of a community service lesson with the Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Leadership Union, Piedmont High School senior Sarah Headley decided to take matters into her own hands to help provide the homeless with much needed clothing. In 2009, she organized a local clothing drive as part of the nationally run Teens for Jeans campaign spearheaded by national youth volunteer organization DoSomething.org and casual clothing retailer Aeropostale. Teens for Jeans calls national attention to rising teen homelessness in the U.S. and Canada by asking teens to collect jeans for the homeless.
The trip to the shelter made a lasting impression, Headley explains. “I got a first-hand view of what homeless people in our county go through,” she said. After getting the OK from her principal, Piedmont High’s first annual Teens for Jeans drive succeeded in collecting more than 700 pairs of jeans. Quick to expand, the next year’s drive included a collection site at Piedmont Middle School, along with a volunteer army stationed at both schools to raise program awareness and get people excited about the cause.
A self-initiated marketing and advertising blitz ensued, which included school rock paintings, posters and even t-shirts. Raising an unexpected 3,000 pairs of jeans, Headley’s team crushed its goal of 1,000. Headley received national recognition for her efforts in Seventeen Magazine, and the National Teens for Jeans sponsors traveled to North Carolina to present an award and honor the school with a pizza party.
Collection Site Details
In addition to Piedmont High and Middle Schools, Headley has extended this year’s Teen for Jeans reach by adding several new collection sites. This year jean drop offs include Unionville, Fairview and New Salem Elementary Schools, CMC Union Hospital’s Volunteer Service Department, the N.C. Highway Patrol Office at 2206 Fowler Secrest Road in Monroe, and Bankers Life & Casualty at 11301 Carmel Commons Blvd. in Charlotte.
Piedmont High will have two collection sites – one in its cafeteria and one in the lobby. The goal of this third annual Teens for Jeans drive? “To collect as many jeans as we can!” Headley said. “It would be amazing to surpass the 3,000 collected last year.”
Always looking to the future, Headley is taking care to leave the campaign in good hands when she departs this summer to attend college at UNC-Chapel Hill. “I’m recruiting volunteers that include students from younger grades,” she explains. “I’m hoping they can start some sort of a club to keep it going.”
Headley’s group is accepting gently used jeans in all shapes, sizes and colors, and will even accept jeans with holes as long as they “are in an appropriate spot,” she says. And with a “pants are pants” attitude even khakis will be accepted. Aeropostale and DoSomething.org donate all jeans to local homeless shelters. The collection ends Wednesday, February 9.