Jeans are usually the piece of clothing that teenagers almost never get rid of, even if they’re dirty, torn or ripped up. But students at Perry Lindsey Middle School in Long Beach have surrendered their denim blues for the greater good.
Sixth-graders De’nija Lonzo, 12, and Ebony Wideman, 11, were both shopping in the Lakewood Mall and came across the Teens for Jeans campaign sponsored by Aeropostale apparel retailer. The campaign, put on by DoSomething.org, a national nonprofit for youth and social change, allows students to start their own drive at their school to collect jeans to be distributed to homeless teenagers at local homeless shelters.
According to the campaign’s website, one in three homeless people is under the age of 18, and there are currently 1.7 million homeless teens in the United States today.
“I know some of the people who are in the shelters, and they don’t have any clothing… so I wanted to help out by giving jeans to them,” said Lonzo. Through the drive, sponsored by teacher Sue Macleod, the students have so far collected more than 700 pairs of jeans to be handed out to local homeless shelters.
The students invited their friends to participate in the school’s drive, shared statistics about homelessness with their friends on social-networking sites and marketed their drive to people throughout the school. The students also worked with school administrators to decide on a location to drop off the jeans.
All participants in the campaign have until Feb. 24 to donate jeans at a local Aeropostale store and receive 25 percent off a new pair of jeans for each donated pair. Each school that signs up receives a free Teens for Jeans school banner. The top collecting elementary, middle and high schools, and the top collecting Canadian school each win $5,000, and the school that collects the most jeans wins the grand prize of $10,000, Aero hoodies with the school’s name on them and a party.
Perry Lindsey Middle School is an international-studies magnet school, which last year became an International Baccalaureate World School, one of only 848 schools worldwide authorized to deliver IB Middle Years Program, which incorporates “international mindedness” and engages students in “real-world problems” in all subject areas.
“We’re just proud of our students for seizing the opportunity to help, having the drive and initiative, and being caring enough to take time off during their busy weekends to look out for the school,” said Principal Stephanie Cooper. “I’m really proud of the students here.”